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KNrwi.*:M-K. 







/ 




SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

A 

TREATISE, 

SHOWING THE 

NATURE AND BENEFIT 

OP THAT 

IMPORTANT SCIENCE, 

AND 

THE WAY TO ATTAIN IT. 

INTERMIXED WITH 

VARIOUS REFLECTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS ON 

HUMAN NATURE. 



BY 

JOHN MASON, A. M. 



e CobIo descendit yv(o9i friavrov, Juvs 

Tlie proper knowledge of Mankind is Man. Pope, 



LONDON : 

PUBLISHED BY JOHN SHARPS, 

DUKE STREET, PICCADILLY, 

1824. 



P 



LO^^S 









PRINTED BY C. WHITTINGHAM, COLLEGE HOUSE. 



"«r^ 



CONTENTS. 



PART I. 

Page 

Preface ...•••.. .....•••...«••« «.••• vii 

Cbap. 

1. The Nature and Importance ol the Subject 1 

2. The several Branches of Self-knowledge. 

We must know what sort of Creatares 
we are, and what we shall be.««.«.« 11 

3. The several Relations in which v^e stand to 

God, to Chdst, and oar Fellow-creatures 18 

4. We must duly consider the Bank and Sta- 

tion of Life in which Providence hath 
placed us, and what it is that becomes and 
adorns it •.•...• •«.«..«•..••«...... 31 

5. Every Man should be well acquainted with 

his own Talents and Capacities; and in 
what Manner they are to be exercised and 
improved to the greatest Advantage «..••. 34 

6. We must be well acquainted with our Ina- 

bilities, and those Things in which we are 
naturally deficient, as well as those in 
which we excel 37 



IV CONTENTS. 

Chap. Page 

7. CoDcerning the Knowledge of our constitu- 
tional Sins •••....• • ••• 39 

S. The Knowledge of our most dangerous 

Temptations necessary to Self-knowledge 45 

9. Self-knowledge discovers the secret Preju- 
dices of the Heart • 43 

10. The Necessity and Means of knowing our 

natural Tempers 61 

1 1 . Concerning the secret Springs of our Actions 66 

12. Every one that knows himself is in a particu- 

lar Manner sensible how far he is governed 
by a Thirst for Applause... 68 

13. What Kind of Knowledge we are already fur- 

nished with, and what Degree of Esteem 

we set upon it 72 

14. Concerning the Knowledge, Guard, and Go- 

vernment of our Thoughts. 77 

15. Concerning the Memory. ...« 90 

16. Concerning the mental Taste... 94 

17. Of our great and governing Views in Life... 9^^ 

18. How to know the true State of our Souls ; 

and whether we are fit to die 



CONTENTS. V 

PART II. 

Chap. Page 

Showing the great Excellency and Advan- 
tages of this Kind of Science • 105 

1. Self-knowledge the Spring of Self-possession 105 

2. Self-knowledge leads to a wise and steady 

Conduct 110 

3. Humility the Effect of Self-knowledge Ill 

4. Charity another Effect of Self-knowledge... 1 14 

5. Moderation the Effect of Self-knowledge... 116 

6. Self-knowledge improves the Judgment... ... 1 19 

7. Self-knowledge directs to the proper Exer- 

cise of Self-denial ...••• 121 

8. Self-knowledge promotes our Usefulness in 

the World 124 

9. Self-knowledge leads to a Decorum and Con- 

sistency of Character 127 

10. Piety the Effect of Self-knowledge 130 

1 1. Self-knowledge teaches us rightly to perform 

the Duties of Religion 131 

12. Self-knowledge the best Preparation for 

Death 134 



a2 



VI .4C0NTENTS. 

PART III. 

Chap. Pa 

Showing how Self-knowledge is to be at- 
tained ••• « 1^ 

1. Self-examination necessary to Self-knowledge U 

2. Constant Watchfulness necessary to Self- 

knowledge , ..., 1^ 

3. We should have some Regard to the Opi- 

nions of others concerning us, particularly 
" of our Enemies i; 

4. Frequent Converse with Superiors a Help to 

Self-knowledge « 1< 

5. Of cultivating such a Temper as will be the 

best Disposition to Self-knowledge 1< 

6. To be sensible of our false Knowledge a good 

Step to Self-knowledge,..., li 

7. Self»inspection peculiarly necessary upon 

some particular Occasions 1< 

8. Tp know ourselves we must 'wholly abstract 

from external Appearances 1' 

9. The Practice of Self-knowledge a great 

Means to promote it , \'. 

10. Fervent and frequent Frayer the most effec- 
tual Means for attaining true Self-know- 
ledge 



PREFACE. 



Ihe subject of the ensuing Treatise is of 
great importance ; and yet I do not remember 
to have seen it cultivated with that precision, 
perspicuity, and force, with which many other 
moral and theological themes have been ma- 
naged. And indeed it is but rarely that we 
find it professedly and fully recommended to 
us, in a set and regular discourse, either from 
the pulpit or the. press. This consideration, 
together with a full persuasion of its great and 
extensive usefulness, hath excited the present 
attempt, to render it more familiar to the 
minds of Christians. 

Mr. Baxter, indeed, has a Treatise on this 
subject, entitled. The Mischief of Self-Igfio^ 
raficCf and the Benefit of Self Acquaintance ; 
and I freely acknowledge some helps I re- 
ceived from him. But he hath handled it (ac> 
cording to his manner) in so lax and diffuse a 
way, introducing so many things that are foreign 



VIU PREFACE. 

from it; omitting others that properly belong 
to it; and skimming over some with a too su- 
perficial notice, that I own I found myself 
much disappointed in what I expected from 
him ; and was convinced that something more 
correct, nervous, and methodical, was wanting 
on this subject. 

I am far from having the vanity to think that 
this, which I now offer to the public, is entirely 
free from those faults which I have remarked 
in that pious and excellent author; and am 
sensible that, if I do not fall under a much 
heavier censure myself, it must be owing to 
the great candour of my reader ; which he will 
be convinced I have some title to, if he but 
duly consider the nature and extent of the sub- 
ject. For it is almost impossible to let the 
thoughts run freely upon so copious and com 
prehensive a theme, in order to do justice to w 
without taking too large a scope in some pa 
ticulars that have a close coonexion with i 
as I fear I have done (Part I. Chap, xi* 
concerning the knowledge, guard, and govei 
ment of the thoughts. 

But there is a great difference betwee 
short, occasional, and useful digression, ai 
wide rambling from the subject, by folio* 
the impulse of a luxuriant fancy. A judi 



PREFACE. IX 

taste can hardly excuse the latter, though it 
may be content the author, should gather a few 
flowers out of the common road, provided he 
8oon returns into it again. 

This brings to my mind another thing, for 
which I am sure I have great reason to crave 
the reader's indulgence ; and that is, the free 
use I have made of some of the ancient hea- 
then writers in my marginal quotations, which, 
I own, looks like an ostentation of reading, that 
I always abhorred. But it was conversing with 
those authors that first turned my thoughts to 
this subject. And the good sense I met with 
in most of their aphorisms and sentiments, 
gave me an esteem for them ; and made it dif- 
ficult for me lo resist the' temptation of tran- 
scribing several of them, which I thought per- 
tinent to the matter in hand. But, after all, I 
am ashamed to see what an old fashioned figure 
they make in the margin. However, if the 
reader thinks they will too much interrupt the 
course of the subject, he may entirely omit 
them ; though by that means he will perhaps 
lose the benefit of some of the finest senti- 
ments in the book. 

I remember a modern writer, I have very 
lately read, is grievously offended with Mr. Ad- 
dison for so much as mentioning the name of 



L PREFACB. 

Plato, and presuming, in one of his Spectators; 
to deliver his notions of humour in a kind of 
allegory, after the manner of that Greek au- 
thor; which he calls ^' a formal method of 
trifling, introduced uuder a deep ostentation of 
learning, which deserves the severest rebuke^ :*^ 
-*4ind perhaps a more severe one was never 
given upon so small a provocation : from gen- 
tlemen of so refined and delicate a taste, I can 
e)(pect no mercy. But the public is to judge 
whether this be not as culpable an affectation 
as the contrary one, which prevailed so much 
in the last century. 

One great view I had in mine eye when I 
put these thoughts together, was the benefit 
of youth, and especially those of them that are 
students and candidates for the sacred ministry; 
for which they will find no science more im* 
mediately necessary (next to a good acquaint 
ance with the word of God) than that which ' 
recommended to them in the following Tre 
tise; to which every branch of human literati 
is subordinate, and ought to be subservif 
For certain it is, the great end of philosof 
both natural and moral, is to know ourse/ 
and to know God. The highest learning 

* See Introduction to an Essay towards fixing th' 
Standard of Wit, &c. page 20, 21. 



PREFACE. XI 

be wise; and the greatest wisdom is to be 
good, — as Marcus Antoninus somewhere ob- 
serves. 

It has often occurred to my mind in digest- 
bg my thoughts on this subject, what a pity it 
is that this most nseful science should be so 
generally neglected -in the modern methods of 
education ; and that preceptors and tutors^ both 
b. public and private seminaries of learning, 
should forget that the forming the manners is 
more necessary to a finished education than 
furnishing the minds of youth. Socrates, who 
made all his philosophy subservient to mo* 
iiality^ was of this sentiment: and took more 
pains to rectify the tempers than replenish the 
understandings of his pupils ; and looked upon 
all knowledge as useless speculation that was 
not brought to this end, to make us wiser and 
better men. And, without doubt^ if in the 
academy the youth has once happily learned 
the great art of managii^ his temper, governing 
his passions, and guarding hi» foibles, he will 
find a more solid advantage from it in after life, 
than he could expect from the best acquaint- 
ance with Bi\ the systems of ancient and mo- 
dern philosophy. 
It was a very just and sensible answer which 

* Totam pbilosophiam revocavk ad mores* Sen. Ep, 72. 



Xll PREFACE* 

Agesilausy the Spartan king, returaed tooi 
who asked him, '* What it was in which joul 
ought principally to be instructed?" He r 
plied, '' That which they have most need 1 
practise, when they are men*." Were th 
single rule but carefully attended to in the mi 
thod of education^ it might probably be coi 
ducted in a manner much more to the advai 
tage of our youth than it ordinarily is : for, i 
Dr. Fuller observes, ''That pains we take i 
books or arts, which treat of things remote froi 
the use of life, is but a busy idleness^." An 
what is there in life which youth will ha^ 
more frequent occasion to practise than this 
What is there which they afterwards more n 
gret the want of? What is there in which th« 
want more direction and assistance than t 
right government of their passions and pre 
dices? And what more proper season to 
ceive those assistances, and to lay a foundaf 
for this difficult but very important scie 
than the early part of youth ? 

It may be said, '' it is properly the office 
care of parents to watch over and correc 
tempers of their children in the first yei 

' See Platarch's Laconic Apothegms, tinder tt 
AgetUaus. 

* Rule of Life, page 8if . . 



PREFACE. XUl 

their infancy, when it may easiest be done." 
But if it be not done effectually then (as it 
very seldom is) there is the more necessity for 
it afterwards. But the truth is, it is the proper 
oflSce and care of all who have the charge of 
youth, and ought to be looked upon as the 
most important and necessary part of edu- 
cation. 

It was the observation of a great divine and 
reformer, *^ That he who acquires his learning 
at the expense of his morals, is the worse for 
his education^:" and we may add, That he 
who does not improve his temper together 
with his understanding, is not much the better 
for it: for he ought to measure his progress in 
science by the improvement of his morals ; and 
remember that he is no further a learned man 
than he is a wise and good man ; and that he 
cannot be a finished philosopher till he is a 
Christian^. 

But whence is it that moral philosophy, 
which was so carefully cultivated in the an- 
cient academy, should be forced in the mo- 

^ Qui proficit in Uteris et deficit in moribns, non pro- 
ficit sed deficit. Oecolampadias, See Hist. qfPop, Vol, ii. 
{H^tf 537. 

^ Te in scientik profecisse credas qnantum in moribns 
fueris emendatior ; eo usque doctum, in quantum bonum : 
ita phiiosophum, ut christianum. Pr<itf, ad Nem, 

h 



XIV PREFACE, 

dern to give place to natural, that was originally 
designed to be subservient to it ? Which is to 
exalt the handmaid into the place of mistress^. 
This appears not only a preposterous, but a 
pernicious method of institution; for as the 
mind takes a turn of thought in future life, 
suitable to the tincture it hath received in 
youth, it will naturally conclude that there is 
no necessity to regard, or at least to lay. any 
stress upon what was never inculcated upon it 
as a matter of importance then : and so will 
grow up in a neglect or disesteem of those 
things which are more necessary to make a 
person a wise and truly understanding man 
than all those rudiments of science he brought 
with him from the school or college. 

It is really a melancholy thing to see a 
young gentleman of shining parts, and a swSet 
disposition, who has gone through the common 
course of academical studies, come out into the 
world under an absolute government of his 

^ Things were coming to this pass so early as Seneca's 
time ; who laments that plain and open truth was turned 
into a dark and intricate science. ** Philosophy (says he"^ 
is turned into Philology ; and that through tlie fault bo' 
of masters and scholars ; the one teach to dispute, not 
live; and the other come to them to mend their wits, : 
their manners : whereas philosophy is nothing else bu 
rule of hfe. Quid antem philosophia, nisi vitae lex est 



PREFACE. XV 

passions and prejudices ; which have increased 
with his learning, and which, when he comes 
to be better acquainted with human life and 
human nature, he is soon sensible and ashamed 
of; but perhaps is never able to conquer as 
long as he lives, for want of that assistance 
which he ought to have received in his educa- 
tion; for a wrong education is one of those 
three things to which it is owing (as an ancient 
Christian and philosopher justly observes) that 
80 few have the right government of their pas- 
sions °. 

I would not be thought to depreciate any 
part of human literature, but should be glad to 
see this most useful branch of science, the 
knowledge of the heart, the detecting and cor- 
recting hurtful prejudices, and the right govern- 
ment of the temper and passions, in more ge- 
neral esteem ; as necessary at once to form the 
gentleman, the scholar, and the Christian. 

• Eyytvovrai oe ra ^avXa itaOri Ttj ^vx^t ^la Tpuov t 
TovTiov' Sia KtiKfig ayuytjg, c| afiaOujg^vjro KaxiKuiQ' {jLti 
ax^tvng yap KoKiag ck Traiduv fog Svvaff&ai Kpareiv nav 
ra^ktv iig rrig afurpiav avrtov eixviiivTOfJiev. — Bad pas* 
sioDS spring up in tbe mind three ways ; viz. through a bad 
edacation, great ignorance, or a disorder in the animal 
frame. (1.) From a bad education: for if we have not 
been taught from our childhood to govern our passions 
wiUi all possible care they will soon come to have the go- 
vernment of us. Netnea, de Nat, Horn, p. 183. 



XVI PREFACE. 

And if there be any thing in this short Trea 
tise which may be helpful to students, wh 
have a regard to the right government of thei 
minds, 'whilst they are furnishing them wit 
useful knowledge, I would particularly recou 
mend it to their perusal. 

I have nothing further to add, but to desii 
the reader's excuse* for the freedom with whic 
I have delivered my sentiments in this matte 
and for detaining him so long from his subject 
which I now leave to his candid and serioi 
thoughts, and the blessing of Almighty God i 
make it useful to him. 



PAKT I. 




} 



* . 



A 

TREATISE 

OP 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 



PART FIRST. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT. 

A DESIRE of knowledge is -natural to the mind 
of man : and nothing discovers the true quality 
and disposition of the mind more than the parti- 
cular kind of knowledge it is most fond of. 

Thus we see that low and little minds are most 
delighted with the knowledge of trifles ; as in 
children: ui indolent mind, with that which 
serves only for amusement, or the entertainment 
of the fancy : a curious mind is best pleased with 
facts: a judicious penetrating mind, with demon- 
stration and mathematical science: a worldly 
mind esteems no knowledge like that of the 
world: but a wise and pious man, before all 
other kinds of knowledge, prefers that of God 
and his own soul. 

B 



^ oj A) it4 A ' 



i 



\Y 



2 NATURE AND IMPORTANCE 

But some kind of knowledge or other the mine 
is continually craving after : and by considerinc 
what that is, its prevailing turn and temper ma] 
easily be known. 

This desire of knowledge, like other affectioof 
planted in our nature, will be very apt to lead us 
wrong, if it be not well regulated. When it u 
directed to improper objects, or pursued in s 
wrong manner, it degenerates into a vain and 
criminal curiosity. A fatal instance of this ii 
our first parents we have upon sacred record: 
the unhappy effects of which are but too visible 
in all. 

Self-knowledge is the subject of the ensu- 
ing Treatise. — A subject, which the more I thini 
of, the more important and extensive it appears. 
So important, that every branch of it seems ab- 
solutely necessary to the right government of the 
life and temper; and so extensive that the nearei 
view we take of its several branches, more arc 
still opening to the view as nearly connected 
with it as the other. like what we find in mi- 
croscopical observations on natural objects : the 
better the glasses, and the nearer the scrutiny, 
the more wonders we explore ; and the more sur- 
prising discoveries we make of certain properties, 
parts, or affections belonging to them, which were 
never before thought of. For, in order to a true 
self-knowledge, the human mind, with its va- 
rious powers and operations, must be narrowly 
inspected ; all its secret bendings and doublinr 
displayed; otherwise our self-acquaintance w 
be but very partial and defective ; and the hea 
after all will deceive us. So that, in treat' 



OF SELF-KKOWLED6B. 3 

this subject, there is no small danger, either of 
doing injury to it, by slight and superficial inquest 
on the one hand, or of running into a research 
too minute and philosophical for common use 
on the other. The two extremes I shall keep in 
n^y ey^y aJ^d endeavour to steer a middle course 
between them. 

Know thyself » is one of the most useful and 
conipretiensiye precepts in the whole moral sys- 
tem : And it is well known in how great a vene- 
ration this maxim was held by the ancients ; and 
in how high esteem the duty of self-examination, 
ag necessary to it. Thales, the Milesian, is said 
to be the first author of it^ ; who used to say, 
that, ybr a man to know himself is the hardest 
thing in the world^. It was afterwards adopted 
by Chylon the Lacedemonian; and is one of 
those three precepts which Pliny affirms to have 
been consecrated at Delphos in golden letters. 
It was afterwards greatly admired, and frequently 
used by others^; till at length it acquired the 

' He was the prince of the philosophers, and flourished 
abont^.lf. 3330; and was contemporary with Josiah king 
of Jndah. 

3 See Stanley's Life of Thales. 

' Respue quod non es : toll at sna mnnera Cerdo. 
Tecnm habita : noris qaam sit tibi cnrta snpellex. 

Pers, Sat, iy. 

oec te qnaBsiveris extra. Id, Sat, i. 

te oonsule, die tibi qois sis. Juv, Sat. xi. 

Teipsum concate. Hor, lib. i. Sat, iii. 
Bellvm est enim sua Titia nosse. Cic, Epist, ad Attkum, 
lib.iL 

Iliad (yvfoOi tnavrov) noli putare ad arrogantiam minnen' 
dam soljlim esse dictam, veriim etiam at bona nostra norimas. 
Id, .^pisf . ad Mar. Q, JFrtUremy lib. iii. Epist 6. 
Id enim maxim^ qaemqae decet qaod est oajasqae suam 

b2 



4 NATURE AND IMPORTANCE 

authority of a divine oracle ; and was supposed 
to have been given originally by Apollo himself. 
Of which general opinion Cicero gives us this 
reason ; ** because it hath such a weight of sense 
and wisdom in it as appears too great to be at- 
tributed to any man ^." And this opinion, of its 
coming originally from Apollo himself, perhaps 
was the reason that it was written in golden ca- 
pitals over the door of his temple at Delphos. 

And why this excellent precept should not be 
held in as high esteem in the christian world as- 
it was in the heathen, is hard to conceive. Hu- 
man nature is the same now as it was then : the 
heart as deceitful ; and the necessity of watching, 
knowing, and keeping it, the same. Nor are we 
less assured that this precept is divine. Nay, we 
have a much greater assurance of this than the 
heathens had ; they supposed it came down from 
heaven, we know it did ; .what they conjectured, 

maximi. Qnisqne igitur noscat Ingeninm acremqne se et bo- 
norom et vitionun gaomm Jadicem praebeat. Id, De Offie, 

Intrandam est igitar in remm naturani, et penitas ; qaid 
ea postolat pervidendnm ; aliter enim nosmet ipsos nosse dod 
possamns. Id. de FinibtUf lib. t. 

^ Haeo enim (t. e. Pbilosophia) nos c&m caeteras res omnes 
torn quod est diflScilimum, docnit ; at [nosmet ipsos] nosce- 
lemus. Cujas Praecepti tanta vis, tanta sententia est, ut ea 
DOD Homini cnipiam, sed Delphico Deo tribaeretnr. Cicero 
de LegUf. lib. i. 

Qaod praeceptom qvia majos erat qnam at ab Homiai yide- 
retnr, idcirco assignatom est Deo : Jabet igitar nos PjtbiaR 
Apollo, noscere [nosmet ipsos]. Idem de Finihua, Ub. t. 
ciq>. xyi. 

Et niminim banc habet vim praeceptom Apollinis, qao monet 
at se qai^qae noscat — Hone igitar nosse (t. e. animam) nisi 
diTinam esset, non esset hoc acrioris cajasdam animi pnecep- 
tarn, sic, at tribatam Deo sit: hoc est seipsam posse cognos- 
cere. Idem Tueenl, Quasi, lib. v. 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 5 

we are sure of. For this sacred oracle is dictated 
to as in a manifold light, and explained to us in 
various views by the Holy Spirit, in that revela- 
tion which God hath been pleased to give us as 
our guide to duty and happiness ; by which, as 
in a glass, we may survey ourselves, and know 
what manner of persons we are^. 

This discovers ourselves to us ; pierces into the 
mmost recesses of the mind ; strips off every dis- 
guise ; lays open the inward part ; makes a strict 
scrutiny into the very soul and spirit; and cri- 
tically judges of the thoughts and intents of the 
heart^. It shows us with what exactness and \ 
care we are to search and try our spirits, examine 
ourselves, and watch our ways, and keep our 
hearts, in order to acquire this important self- 
science; which it often calls us to do: — Ex- 
amine yourselves, — prove your oton selves; know 
you not yourselves '^ ? Let a man examine him- 

^ James, i. 23. 

• JLai KpiTiKOQ tvOvfiriff ibJV km ivvoiwv Kop^tag, Heb. *'*7t^ 

• 1 Q •■i^*««Bi«"i*""«.W»«««*i^"""«'^'*"^** «»— II l»l» liMi.— '* **^^~~'li1iiMi«liil "' — ^^ 

Iv. liS. 

^ fLavTOVQ doKifiaZire. 2 Cor. xiii. 6. — Though ^0Ki}iaZ,HV 
signifies to approve ^ as well as to prove y yet that our trans- 
lators have hit upon the tnie sense of the word here, in ren- 
dering it prove yourselves ^ is apparent, not only from the word 
immediately preceding (iavrovg Trci/oaZ^erc) which is of the 
same import, bat because self-probation is always necessary 
to a right self-approbation. 

" Every christian ought to try himself, and may know him- 
self, if he be faithful in examining. The frequent exhorta- 
tions of scripture hereunto imply both these, viz. that the 
knowledge of ourselves is attainable, and that we should en- 
deavour after it. Why should the apostle put them upon 
examining and proving themselves, unless it was possible to 
know themselves lipon such trying and proving?" — Bennefs 
Christ* Oratory, p. 568. 



'^h-f'l^jv^ 






\ 



6 NATURE AND IMPORTANCB 

9elf^. Our Saviour upbraids his disciples with 
their self-ignorance, in not knowing what manner 
of spirit they were of^. And, saith the Apostle, 
If a man (through self-ignorance) thinketh him- 
self to be something when he is nothing, he cfo- 
ceiveth himself. But let every man prove his 
worky and then shall he have rejoicing in him- 
self, and not in another^^. Here we are com- 
manded, instead of judging others, to judge our- 
selves ; and to avoid the inexcusable rashness of 
condenming others for the very crimes we our- 
selves are guilty of, Rom. ii. 1, 21, 22 ; which 
a self-ignorant man is very apt to do ; nay, to be 
more offended at a small blemish in another's 
character than at a greater in his own; which 
folly, self-ignorance, and hypocrisy, our Saviour, 
with just severity, animadverts upon. Matt. vii. 
3—5. 

And what stress was laid upon this, under the 
Old Testament dispensation, appears su£Sciently 
from those expressions : Keep thy heart with all 
diligence^^. Commune with your own heart^. 
Search me, O God, and know my heart ; try 
me, and know my thoughts ^^. Examine me, O 
Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my 
heart ^*, Let us search and try our ways^. 
Recollect, recollect yourselves, O nation not de- 
sired^^ ^7. — And all this is necessary to that self- 

® 1 Cor. xi. 28. » Luke, ix. 56. »» Gal. vi. S. 4. 

" Prov. iv. 23. " Psal. iv. 4. " Psal. cxxxix. 2S. 

" Psal. xxvi. 2. " Lam. iii. 4. »« Zeph. u. 1. 

^^ The verb properly gignifies to glean or gather together 
-scattered sticks or straws; as appears from all the places 
where the word is used in the Old Testament (Exod. v. 7, 12. 



OF SKLF-KNOWLED6K. 7 

acquaintance which is the only proper basis of 
solid peace ^« 

Were mankind bnt more generally convmced 
of the importance and necessity of this sel^ 
knowledge, and possessed with a due esteem for 
it; did they but know the true way to attain it; 
and under a proper sense of its excellence, and 
the fatal effects of self-ignorance, did they but 
make it their business and study every day to 
cultivate it ; how soon should we find a happy 
alteration in the manners and spirits of men ! — — 
Bat the misery of it is, men will not think ; will 
not employ their thoughts, in good earnest, about 
the things which most of all deserve and demand 
them. IBy which unaccountable indolence, and 
aversion to self-reflection, they are led blindfold 
and insensibly into the most dangerous paths 
of infidelity and wickedness, as the Jews were 
heretofore; of whose amazing ingratitude and 
apostacy God himself assigns this signal cause : 
^Bfy people do not consider^. 

Num. XY. 32. 1 Kings xvii. 13.) Hence, by an easy meta- 
phor, it signifies to recoUect, or gather the scattered thoughts 
together ; and ought to be so rendered, when used in the re- 
flective form, as here it is. So saith R. Kimohi, est propria 
stqNilas coUigere. Id sit accurate scmtatione banc dicitnr 
de qoalibet Inqaisitione. Whence I think it is evident that 
tile word should be rendered as above. 

*^ Clement Alexandrinus saith, that Moses, by that phrase 
so common in his writings, Tak^ heed to thyself (Exod. x. 28. 
xxxiv. 12. Deut iv. 9.), means the same thing as the ancients 
did by their yvcudi fftavrov, Strom, lib. ii. cap. 5. 

^ Isai. i. 3. 

^ ** There is nothing men are more deficient in than 
knowing their own characters. I know not how this science 
comes to be so mnch neglected. We spend a great deal of 



/ 



aOM^S NATURE AND IMPORTANCE 

Self-knowledge is that acquaintance with our- 
selves which shows us what we are, and do, and 
ought to be, in order to our living comfortably 
and usefully here, and happily hereafter. The 
means of it is self-examination ; the end of it is 
self-government and self-fruition. — It principally 
consists in the knowledge of our souls ; which is 
attained by a particulai* attention to their various 
powers, capacities, passions, inclinations, opera- 
tions, state, happiness, and temper. For a man's 
soul is properly himself, 3fatt, xvi. 26. compared 
\ with Luke ix. 25^^. The body is but the house ; 
the soul is the tenant that inhabits it; the body 
is the instrument; the soul the artist that di- 
rects it^. 

This science, which is to be the subject of the 






time in learning useless things^ bat take no pains in the stndy 
of onrselyes, and in opening the folds and doubles of the 
heart." Refiections on Ridicule, p. 61. 

^^ Praeoeptom Apollinis quo monet, at se qaisqae noscat, 
non enim, credo, id prsecipit ; at membra nostra aut staitaram 
figaramqae noscamns : nec|ae nos corpora somas : neqae ego, 
tibi dicens hoc, corpori tno dico : cam igitar nosce te dicit, 
hoc dicit, Nosce animam taam. Nam corpus quidem quasi 
ras est, aut aliquod animi receptaculum ; ab animo tuo quic- 
qnld agitur, id agitur k te. Cic, Tuscul. QwBst, lib. i. 

I ** 2 Cor. V. 1. Rom.Ti. 13. — ij dvvafiig i//v%ijc, to dt opya- 

I vov fftofiaroQ* Nemes. de Nat, Horn. cap. yi. 

\ M^dt*0Tt ffVfi*epij^avTaI^ov to *epiK€ifiivov ayyiuadig 

\ KM Ta opyavM tuvtu Ta 'TnpiirsirXatTiiivaj ofioia yap cort 

X OKtirapvit), fjLovoi dt dtatftepovTaj KaOoTi 'Kpoff^vrj €<mr. 

..^ } Mar, Anton, — ^When jou talk of a man, I would not have you 

I tack flesh and blood to the notion, nor those limbs neiUier 

\ which are made out of it: these are but tools for the soul to 

I work with, and no more part of a man than an axe or a plane 

{ is a piece of a carpenter. It is true, nature hath glued them 

J together, and they grow as it were to the soul ; and there is 

; all the difference. Collier. 









OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 9 

eosuing Treatise, hath these three peculiar pro- 
perties in it, which distinguish it from, and render 
it preferable to all other. — (1 .) It is equally at- 
tainable by all. It requires no strength of me- 
mory, no force of genius, no depth of penetration, 
as many other sciences do, to come at a tolerable 
degree of acquaintance with them ; which there- 
fore renders them inaccessible by the greatest 
part of mankmd. Nor is it placed out of their 
reach through. a want of opportunity, and proper 
assistance and direction how to acquire it, as 
many other parts of learning are. Every one of 
a common capacity hath the opportunity and 
ability to attain it, if he will but recollect his 
rambling thoughts, turn them in upon himself, 
watch the motions of his heart, and compare 
them with this rule. — (2.) It is of equal impor- 
tance to all; and of the highest importance to 
every one^^. Other sciences are suited to the 
various conditions of hfe ; some, more necessary 
to some ; other, to others. But this equally con- 
cerns every one that hath an immortal soul, 
whose final happiness he desires and seeks. — 
(3.) Other knowledge is very apt to make a man 
vain ; this always keeps him humble. Nay, it is 
for want of this knowledge that men are vain of 
that they have. Knowledge puffeth up^, A 4j 
small degree of knowledge often hath this effect 
on weak minds : and the reason why greater at- 
tainments in it have not so generally the same 



;^V 



** 'Tis virtae only makes our bliss below ; 

And all onr knowledge is ourselves to know. ^ 

~- — — ~— • — JP/jjie^f Bswg'onMan, 

** 1 Cor. viii. 1. *:; 

b3 



•wjMJ 



10 NATURE AND IMPORTANCE, ETC. 

effect is, because they open and enlarge the views 
of the mind so far as to let into it at the same 
time a good degree of Self-Knowledge. For the 
more true knowledge a man hath, the more sen- 
sible he is of the want of it; which keeps him 
humble. 

And now, reader, whoever thou art, whatever 
be thy character, station, or distinction in life, if 
thou art afraid to look into thine heart, and hast 
no inclination to self-acquaintance, read no fur- 
ther: lay aside this book; for thou wilt iind 
nothing here that will flatter thy self-esteem ; but 
perhaps something that may abate it. But if 
thou art desirous to cultivate this important kind 
of knowledge, and to live no longer a stranger 
to thyself, proceed; and keep thy eye open to 
thine own image, with whatever unexpected de- 
formity it may present itself to thee ; and patiently 
attend whilst, by divine asistance, I endeavour 
to lay open thine own heart to thee, and lead thee 
to the tnie knowledge of thyself in the foUowing 
chapters. 



11 



CHAP. II. 



THE SEVERAL BRANCHES OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. WE KVtTt 
KNOW WHAT SORT OF CREATURES WE ARE, AND WHAT 
WE SHALL BE. 

That we may have a more distinct and orderly 
view of this subject, I shall here consider the se- 
veral branches of Self-ELnowledge ; of some of 
the chief particulars wherein it consists : whereby 
perhaps it will appear to be a more copious and 
ecnnprehensiye science than we imagine. And, 
(1.) To know ourselves is to know and seri- 
ously consider what sort of creatures we are , and 
what we shall h% . 

Man is a complex being, Tg/ju.ggf^g vroffreurt g, a \ 

tnfSrGte person; or a compouna creature made i 

up of three distinct parts, viz. the Body , which j 

is the earthly or mortal part of him'; me Soul, ! 

which is the animal or sensitive part; and t&e ! 

S pirit or Mind, which is the rational and immor- i 

tdpart^. — ^£ach of these three parts have their | 

* This doctrine/ 1 think, is established beyond all dispnte, ' 
not only by experience, bat by authority. It was received by 
afanost all the ancient philosophers. The Py^agoreans ; as 
we learn from Jamblicns, vid. Protrept. p, 34/357 iTie Pla- 
tonists ; as appears from Nemesins, Sallnst, and Laertins, vid. | 
Dirtjaertias, lib. »"• P^ 219. The Stoics ; as appears from 
Antnninnn^ who saith expressly, *^ xnere are tiiree things | 
which belong to a roan; the bo^ the soul, and the min^ . 
And as to the properties of the division, sensation beld&gs to' 
the body, appetite to the sonl, and reason to the mind," (ra)/ua, 
^vxrj, vovQ, (TiaiiaTOQ ai(r9rj&iig, t/zvxiyc opfiai, vov SoyfjLaTa* 
lib. iu. § 16. lib. ii. § 2. lib. xii. § 3.— It appears also to have 
been the opinion of most of the Fathers vid. Irenaen s, lib. v. 
cap. ix. lib. ii. cap. xxxiii. Ed. Far, Clem. Aldx. S^trom. iii, ; 

/r 

a: <Lf--Q It ^ 



^ 



12 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

respective o£Sces assigned theni ; and a man then 
acts becoming lumself when he keeps them duly 
employed in their proper functions, and preserves 
their natural subordination. — But it is not enough 
to know this merely as a point of speculation ; 
we must pursue and revolve the thought, and 
urge the consideration to all the purposes of a 
practical self-acquaintance. 

We are not all body, nor mere animal crea- 
tures. We find we have a more noble nature 
than the inanimate or brutal part of the creation. 
We can not only move and act freely, but we 
observe in ourselves a capacity of reflection, 

p. 542, Ed. Oxon. Origen. Philocal. p. 8. Ig^iai^ Ep. ad 
Philadelph. ad calcemr See also Josegh. Anflqait. lib. i. cap. 
ii. p. 5. CoDstitut. Apostol. lib. yu. cap. xxxiv. Baf above 
all these is the authority of Scripture, which, speaking of the 
original formation of man, mentions the three distinct parts of 
his nature ; Gen, ii. 7, viz. the dust of the earthy or the body ; 
the living soul, or ihe animal and sensitive part ; and the 
breath of life, i. e, the spirit or rational mind. In like man- 
ner the apostle Pan] divides the whole man into (to TrviVfia, 
ri ^xVt KM TO fftafxa) the spirit, the soul, and the body^ 1 
Thess. v. 23 : and what he cidls i rytvf ia here, he calls yovg, 
l!K)in. yu.'^agl^ the word which Antonmns nses to denotet&e 
^CBeTning^They who would see more of this may consult 
Nemesius de Natura Hominis, cap. 1. and Whiston's Pri m. 
Christ vol. iv. p. 262. ^ 

All the oKSBTVWhmffl shall make hereupon is, that this con- 
sideration may serve to soften the prejudices of some against 
the account which Scripture gives us of the mysterious man- 
ner of the existence of the divine nature ; of which every man 
(as cretUed in the image of God) carries about him a kind of 
emblem, in the threefold distinction of his own ; which, if be 
did not every minute find it by experience to be a fact, would 
doubtless appear to him altogether as mysterious and incom- 
prehensible as the Scripture doctrine of the Trinity. 

** Homo habet tres partes, spiritum, animam, et corpus ; 
itaque homo est imago S. S. Trinitatis." August* Tractat. de 
Symholo, 



DOTH CONSIST. 13 

study, and forecast; and various mental opera- 
tions, which irrational animals discover no symp- 
toms of. Our souls therefore must be of a more 
excellent nature than theirs ; and from the power 
of thought with which they are endowed, they 
are proved to be immaterial substances ; and con- 
sequently in their own nature capable of immor- 
tality; and that they are actually immortal, or 
will never die, the sacred Scriptures do abun- 
dantly testify^. — Let us then hereupon seriously 
recollect ourselves in the following soliloquy : 
< O my soul, look back but a few years, and 

thou wast nothing ! ^And how didst Uiou spring 

out of that nothing? — Thou couldst not make 
thyself. That is quite impossible. — Most certain 
it is that that almighty, self-existent, and eternal 
Power, which made the world, made thee also 
out of nothing ; called thee into being when thou 
wast not ; gave thee these reasoning and reflect- 
ing faculties, which thou art now employing in 
searching out the end and happiness of thy na- 
ture. — It was He, O my soul, that made thee 
intelligent and immortal. It was He that placed 
thee in this body, as in a prison : where thy ca- 

' As nature delights in the most easy transitions from one 
class of beings to another, and as the nexus u*riusque generis 
is observable' in several creatures of ambiguous nature, which 
seem to connect the lifeless and vegetable, the vegetable and 
animal, the animal and rational worlds together (see Nemesins 
de Nat. Hom. cap. 1. p. 6.) ; why may not the souls of brutes 
be considered as the nexus between material and immaterial 
substances, or matter and spirit, or something between botli? 
The great dbsimilitude of nature in these two substances, I 
apprehend, can be no solid objection to this hypothesis, if we 
consider (beside our own ignorance of the nature of spirits) but 
how nearly they approach in other instances, and how closely 
they are united in man. . 



14 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

pacities are cramped, thy desires debased, and 
thy liberty lost. It was He that sent thee into 
this world, which by all circumstimces appears 
to be a state of short discipline and trial. And 
wherefore did He place thee here, when he might 
have made thee a more free, unconfined, and 
happy spirit? But check that thought; it looks 
like a too presumptuous curiosity. A more need- 
ful and important inquiry is, What did He place 
thee here for? And what doth He expect from 
thee whilst thou art here ? What part hath he al- 
lotted me to act on ike stage of human life; where 
He, angels, and men are spectators of my beha- 
viour? The part He hath given me to act here is, 
dpubtless, a very important one ; because it is for 
eternity ^. And what is it, but to live up to the 
dignity of my rational and intellectual nature ; wnd 
as becomes a creature bom for immortality. 

' And tell me, O my soul (for as I am now 
about to cultivate a better acquaintance with 
thee, to whom I ha^e been too long a stranger, I 
must try thee, and put many a close question to 
thee), tell me, I say, whilst thou confinest tiiy 
desires to sensual gratifications, wherein dost 
tiiou differ from the beasts that perish? Capti- 
vated by bodily appetites, dost thou not act be- 
neath thyself? Dost thou not put thyself upon a 
level witii the lower class of beings, which were 

' It is said, when the prince of the Latin poets was asked 
by his friend, why he studied so much aoonraoy in the plan 
of his poem, the propriety of his characters, and the parity of 
his diction ; he replied, Jn €Biernum pingOf * I am writing for 
eternity/ What more weighty consideration to justify and. 
enforce the utmost vigilance and circumspection of life than 
this, Jn sternum vivo, * I am living for eternity?' 



DOTH CONSIST. 15 

made to serve thee, offer an indignity to thyself, 
and despise the work of thy Mdker's hands ? O 
remember thy heavenly extract; remember thou 
art a spirit. Check then the solicitations of the 
flesh; and dare to do nothing that may diminish 
thy native excellence, dishonour thy high origi- 
ns, or degrade thy noble nature^. But let me 
still urge it. Consider, I say, O my soul, that 
thou art an immortal spirit. Thy body dies ; but 
thou, thou must live for ever, and thine eternity 
will take its tincture from the manner of thy 
behaviour, and the habits thou contractest, dur- 
ing this thy short copartnership with flesh and 
blood. O ! do nothing now, but what thou 
mayst vdth pleasure look back upon a million 
of ages hence. Por know, O my soul, that thy 
sel#-conscioi|sness and reflecting faculties will 
not leave thee with thy body; but will follow 
thee after death, and be the instrument of un- 
speakable pleasure or torment to thee in that 
separate state of existence ^.' . 

(2.) In order to a full acquaintance with our- \ 

^ Major gam et ad majora natas, qnam quod sim corporis 
mancipium. Qnod equidem non aliter aspicio qaam Tinoulmn 
libertati me«e eircamdatam. Sen, Ep, Ixvi. 

« I am too m>ble» and of too high a birth," saith that excel' 
lent moralist, " to be a slave to my body ', which I look upon 
only as a chain thrown npon the liberty of my soul." 

^ As it is not the design of this Treatise to enter into a 
nice and philosophical disqaisition concerning the nature of 
the human sonl, bat to awaken men's attention to the inward 
operatioDS and affections of it (which is by far the most neces- 
sary part of Self-Knowledge), so they who would be more 
particolarly informed concerning its nature and original, and 
the varioos opinions of the ancients about it, may consult 
Nemes, de Nat. Horn, cap. i. and a Treatise called Tk^ 
Ooffemment of the Thoughts, chap. i. and Chamber's Cyelo- 
padia, under the word Soul. 



{ 



1 



16 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

selves, we must endeavour to know not only what 
we are, but what we shall be . 

And O ! what ditlerent creatures shall we soon 
be, from what we now are ! Let us look forwards 
then, and frequently glance our thoughts towards 
death, though they cannot penetrate the dark- 
ness of that passage, or reach the state behind it. 
That lies veiled from the eyes of our mind ; and 
the great God hath not thought fit to throw so. 
much light upon it, as to satisfy the anxious and 
inquisitive desires the soul hath to know it. — 
However, let us make the best use we can of that 
little light which Scripture and reason have let in 
upon this dark and important subject. 

* Compose thy thoughts, O my soul, and ima- 
gine how it will fare with thee, when thou goest 
a naked, unimbodied spirit, into a world, an un- 
known world of spirits, with all thy self-con- 
sciousness about thee, where no material object 
shall strike thine eye ; and where thy dear partner 
and companion the body cannot come nigh thee ; 
but where without it thou wilt be sensible of the 
most noble satisfactions, or the most exquisite 
pains. Embarked in death, thy passage will be 
dark ; and the shore, on which it will land thee, 

altogether strange and unknown. It doth not 

yet appear what we shall be^.' 

' * Thoa mast expire, my soul, ordained to range 
Through anexperienced scenes, and mysteries strange ; 
Dark Uie event, and dismal the exchange. 
Bat when compell'd to leave this boase of clay. 
And to an onknown somewhere wing thy way ; 
When time shall he eternity, and thoa 
Shalt he thoa know'st not what, nor where, nor how, 
Tremhling and pale, what wilt thoa see or do? 
Amazing state ! No wonder that we dread 
The thoughts of death, or faces of the dead. 



DOTH CONSIST. 17 

That reyelation, which God hath been pleased 
to make of his will to mankind, was designed 
rather to fit us for the future happiness, and direct 
our way to it, than open to us the particular glo- 
ries of it, or distinctly show us what it is. This 
it hath left still very much a mystery ; to check 
our too curious inquiries into the nature of it, and 
to bend our thoughts more intently to that which 
more concerns us, viz. an habitual preparation for 
it And what that is, we cannot be ignorant, if 
we believe either our Bible or our reason ; for 
both these assure us, that that which makes us 
like to God is the only thinE that can fit us for 
the enjoyment of him. Here then let us hold. 
Let our great concern be, to be holy as He is 
holy ; and then, then only, are we sure to enjoy 
Him, in whose light we shall see light. And be 
the future state of existence what it will, we shall 
some way be happy there ; and much more happy 
than we can now conceive ; though in what par- 
ticular manner we know not, because God hath 
Qot revealed it. 

His black retinae sorely strikes our mind ; 
Sickness and pain before, and darkness all behind. 

* Some courteous ghost the secret then reveal ; 
Tell us what joa have felt, and we must feel. 
Yon warn us of approaching death, and why 
Will you not teach as what it is to die ? 
But haying shot the gulf, yon love to view 
Succeeding spirits plunged along like you ; 
Nor lend a friendly hand to guide them through. 

' When dire disease shall cut, or age untie 
The knot of life, and su^er us to die ; 
When after some delay, some trembling strife, 
The soul stands quivering on the ridge of life ; 
With fear and hope she Uirobs, then curious tries 
Spme strange hereafter, and some hidden skies.' 

NORRIS. 



18 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 



CHAP. III. 

THE SEVERAL RELATIONS WHEREIN WE STAND TO GOD; TO 
CHRIST, AND OUR FELLOW CREATURES. 

2. Self-knowledge requires us to_be well ac- 
q uainted with the vario us relations in which we 
jBtouid t o other beings, arid the sevCTJirHuliies^iKa^ 
resultlromTEEose relations. And, 

{!.) Our first and principal concern is to con- 
si JeT t he relation wherein we stand to jELim who^ 
gave us being. '"^ -«-—■— 

'We are tne creatures of his hand, and the ob- 
jects of his care. His power upholds the being 
his goodness gave us ; his boun^ accommodates 
us with the blessings of this life ; and his grace 
provides for us the happiness of a better. 
Nor are we merely his creatures, but his rational 
and intelligent breatures. It is the dignity of our 
natures, that we are capable of knowing and en- 
joying Him that made us. And as the rational 
creatures of God, there are two relations espe- 
cially that we bear to Him; the frequent con- 
sideration of which is absolutely necessary to a 
right Self-Knowledge. For as our Creator, He 
is our King and Father : and as his creatures, we 
are the subjects of his kingdom, and the children 
of his family. 

(1.) We are the subjects of his kingdom. And 
as such we are bound, 

(1.) To yield a faithful obedience to the laws 
of his kingdom. And the advantages, by which 
these come recommended to us above all human 
laws, are many — they are calculated for the pri- 



DOTH CONSIST. 19 

vate interest of every one, as well as that of the 
pablic ; and are designed to promote our present, 
as well as our fiiture h^piness — they are plainly 
and explicitly published; easily understood ; and 
in fair and legible characters writ in every man's 
heart; and the wisdom, reason, and necessity of 
them are readily discerned — they are urged witb 
the most ndghty motives that can possibly aflfect 
the human heart : and if any of them are difficult, 
the most effectual grace is freely offered, to eur 
courage and assist our obedience: advantages 
which no human laws have to enforce the observ-* 
ance of them. — (2.) As his subjects, we must 
readily pay him the homage due to his sove- 
reignty. And this is no less than the homage of 
the heart; humbly acknowledging that we hold 
every thing of him, and have every thing from him. 
Earthly princes are forced to be content with ver- 
bal acknowledgments, or mere formal homage ; 
for they can command nothing but what is exter- 
nal : but God, who knows and looks at the hearts 
of all his creatures, will accept of nothing but 
idiat comes from thence. He demands the ado- 
ration of our whole souls, which is most justly 
due to him who formed them, and gave them 
the very capacities to know and adore him.— — 
(3.) As faithful subjects, we must cheerfully pay 
him the tribute he requires of us. This is not 
like the tribute which earthly kings exact; who 
as much depend upon their subjects for the sup- 
port of their power, as their subjects do upon 
them for the protection of their property. But 
the tribute God requires of us, is a tribute of 
praise and honour, which he stands in no need of 



20 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

from us ; for his power is independent, and his 
glory immutable; and he is infinitely able of 
himself to support the dignity of his universal 
government. But it is the most natural duty we 
owe to him as creatures ; for to praise him, is 
only to show forth his praise ; . to glorify him, to 
celebrate his glory; and to honour him, is to 
render him and h^ ways honourable in the eyes 
and esteem of others. And as this is the most 
natural duty that creatures owe to their Creator, 
so it is a tribute he requires of every one of them 
in proportion to their respective talents and abi- 
lities to pay it. — (4.) As dutiful subjects, we 
must contentedly and quietly submit to the me- 
thods and administrations of his government, how- 
ever dark, involved, or intricate. All govern- 
ments have their arcana imperii, or secrets of 
state ; which conmion subjects cannot penetrate. 
And therefore they cannot competently judge of 
the wisdom or rectitude of certain public mea- 
sures, because they are ignorant either of the 
springs of them, or tiie ends of them, or the expe- 
diency of the means arising from the particular 
situation of things in the present juncture. And 
how much truer is this with relation to God's 
government of the world? whose wisdom is far 
above our reach, and whose ways are not as ours! 
Whatever then may be the present aspect and 
appearance of things, as dutiful subjects, we are 
bound to acquiesce; to ascribe wisdom and 
righteousness to our Maker, in confidence that 
the King and Judge of all the earth will do 
right. — Again, (6.) As good subjects of God's 
kingdom, we are bound to pay a due regard and 



BOTH CONSIST. 21 

reverence to his ministers ; especially if they dis- 
cover an uncomipted fidelity to his cause, and a 
pure unaffected zeal for his honour; if they do 
not seek their own interest more than that of 
their divine Master. The ministers of earthly 
princes too often do this ; and it would be happy 
if all the ministers and ambassadors of the hea- 
venly King were entirely clear of the imputation. 
It is no uncommon thing fof the honour of an 
earthly monarch to be wounded through the sides 
of his ministers. The defamation and slander, 
Uiat is directly thrown at them, is obliquely in- 
tended against him ; and as such it is taken. So 
to attempt to make the ministers of the gospel, 
in general, the objects of derision, as some do, 
plainly shows a mind very dissolute and disaf- 
fected to God and religion itself; and is to act a 
part very unbeconiing the dutiful subjects of his 
kingdom.— (Lastly.) As good subjects, we are 
to do all we can to promote the interest of his 
kingdom ; 'by defending the wisdom of his admi- 
nistrations, and endeavouring to reconcile others 
thereunto, under all the darkness and difficulties 
that may appear therein, in opposition to the pro- 
fane censures of the prosperous wicked, and the 
doubts and dismays of the afflicted righteous. — 
This is to act in character as loyal subjects of the 
King of heaven ; and whoever forgets this part of 
his character, or acts contrary to it, shows a great 
degree of self-ignorance. 

But, (2.) As the creatures of God, we are not 
' only the subjects of his kingdom, but the children 
of his family. And, to this relation, and the ob- 
ligations of it, must we carefully attend, if we 



22 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

would attain the true knowledge of ourselves. — 
We are his children by creation ; in which respect 
he is truly our Father. But now, O Lord, thou 
art (mr Father: we are the clay, and thou our 
Potter: and we all are the work of thine hands^. 
And in a more special sense we are his children 
by adoption. For ye are all the children of 
God by faith in Christ Jeras^, — And therefore 
(1.) we are under Ibe highest obligations to love 
him as our Father. The love of children to pa- 
rents is founded on gratitude for benefits receiyed, 
which can never be requited; and ought in rea- 
son to be proportioned to those benefits. And 
what duty more natural than to love our benefac- 
tors ? What love and gratitude then is due to him 
from whom we have received the greatest benefit, 
even that of our being, and every thing that con- 
tributes to the comfort of it? (2.) As his chil- 
dren, we must honour him ; that b, must speak 
honourably of him, and for him ; and carefully 
avoid every thing that may tend to dishonour his 
holy name and ways. A son honoureth his fa-* 
ther: — if then I be a Father, where is mine ho^ 
nour^? — (3.) As our Father, we are to apply to 
him for what we want. Whither should children 
go but to their father for protection, help, and re- 
lief, in every danger, difficulty, and distress ? — 
And (4.) We must trust his powej and wisdom 
and paternal goodness, to provide for us, take 
care of us, and do for us that which is best; and 
what that is he knows best. To be anxiously 
fearful what will become of us, and discontented 
and perplexed under the apprehension of future 

1 Isai. Ixiy. 8. ^ Gal. iii. 26. » j^^l. i. 6. 



DOTH CONSIST. 23 

evils, whilst we are in the hands and under the 
care of our Father who is in heaven, is not to act 
like children. Earthly parents cannot avert from 
their children all the calamities they fear, because 
their wisdom and power are limited ; but our all- 
wise and almighty Father in heaven can. They 
may possibly want love and tenderness, but our 
heavenly Father cannot, Isai. xlix. 15. — (5.) As 
children, we must quietly acquiesce in his dis- 
posals, and not expect to see into the wisdom of 
all his will. It would be indecent and undutiful 
in a child to dispute the authority, or question 
the wisdom, or neglect the orders of his parents 
every time he could not discern the reason and 
design thereof. Much more unreasonable and 
unbecoming is such a behaviour towards God, 
who giveth not account of any of his matters; 
whose judgments are unsearchable, and whose 
ways are past finding out^, — (Lastly), As chil- 
dren, we must patiently submit to his discipline 
and correction. Earthly parents may sometimes 
punish their children through passion, or for their 
pleasure; but our heavenly Father always cor- 
rects his for their profit^, and only if need be ^, 
and never so much as their iniquities deserve"^. 
Under his fatherly rebukes then let us be ever 
humble and submissive. Such now is the true 
filial disposition. Such a temper and such a be- 
haviour should we show towards God, if we 
would act in character as his children. 
These then are the two special relations which, 

* Job, xxxiii. 13. Rom. xi. 33. ^ Heb. xii. 10. 

• 1 Peter, L 6. ^ Ezra, ix. 13. 



24 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

as creatures, we stand in to God. And not to 
act towards him in the manner before mentioned, 
is to show that we are ignorant of, or have not 
yet duly considered our obligations to him as 
his subjects and his children ; or that we are as 
yet ignorant both of God and ourselves. Thus 
we see how directly the knowledge of ourselves 
leads us to the knowledge of God. So true is 
the observation of a late pious and very worthy 
divine, that * He that is a stranger to himself, is 
a stranger to God, and to every thing that may 
denominate him wise and happy ^.^ 

But (2.) In order to know ourselves, there is 
another important relation we should often think 
of, and that is. That m which we sta nd to Jesus 
Christ our Redeemer.*"*****'**^ 

fhe former was common to us as men; this is 
peculiar to us as Christians, and opens to us a 
new scene of duties and obligations, which a man 
can never forget, that does not grossly forget him- 
self. For, as Christians, we are the disciples, 
the followers, and the servants of Christ, re- 
deemed by him. 

And, (1.) As the disciples of Christ, we are to 
learn of him. To take our relioious sentiments 
only from his gospel, in opposition to all the au- 
thoritative dictates of men, who are weak and 
fallible as ourselves. Call no man master an 
earth. Whilst some affect to distinguish them- 
selves by party names, as the Corinthians for- 
merly did (for which the Apostle blames them), 

^ See Mr. Baxter's Dedicatory Epistle, prefixed to his 
Treatise on the Benefits of Self-acquaintance, 



BOTH CONSIST. 25 

one saying, / am of Paul; another, / am of 
Apollos; another, / am of Cephas^, let us re- 
member that we are the disciples of Christ; and 
in this sense mnke mention of his name only. It 
is really injurious to it, to seek to distinguish 
ourselves by any other. There is more camaUty 
in such party distinctions, denominations, and 
attachments, than many good souls are aware 
of; though not more than the apostle Paul (who 
was unwillingly placed at the head of one him- 
self) hath apprised them oP^. We are of Christ ; 
our concern is, to honour that superior denomina- 
tion, by living up to it : and to adhere inflexibly 
to his gospel, as the only rule of our faith, the 
guide of our life, and the foundation of our hope, 
whatever contempt or abuse we may suffer either 
from the profane or bigoted part of mankind for 
so doing.— (2.) As Christians, we are followers 
of Christ; and therefore bound to imitate him, 
and copy after that most excellent pattern he 
hath set us, who hath left us an example, that we 
should follow his steps ^^. To see that the same 
holy temper be in us which was in him ; and to 
discover it in the same manner he did, and upon 
like occasions. To this he calls us^^, and no 
man is any further a Christian than as he is a fol- 
lower of Christ; aiming at a more perfect con- 
formity to that most perfect example which he 
hath set us of universal goodness. — (3.) As 
Christians, we are the servants of Christ; and 
the various duties which servants owe to their 
masters in any degree, those we owe to him in 

» 1 Cor. i. 12. w 1 Cor. iii. 4, » 1 Pet ii. 21, 

" Mat xi. 21. 






26 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

the highest degree; who expects we should be- 
have ourselves in his service with that fidelity, 
and zeal, and steady regard to his honour and 
interest at all times, which we are bound to hij 
virtue of this relation, and to which his unmerite<] 
and unlimited goodness and love lays us undei 
infinite obligations. — (Lastly), We are moreove] 
his redeemed servants; and, as such, are undei 
the strongest motives to love and trust him. 

This deserves to be more particularly con- 
sidered, because it opens to us another view oi 
the human nature, in which we should often sur- 
vey ourselves, if we desire to know ourselves; 
and that is, as depraved or degenerate beings. 
The inward contest we so sensibly feel, at some 
seasons especially, between a good and a bad 
principle (called, in scripture language, the Flesb 
and the Spirit) of which some of the wisest hea- 
thens seemed not to be ignorant ^^: this, I say, 
is demonstration, that some way or other the hu- 
man nature hath contracted an ill bias (and hoiv 
that came about, the sacred scriptures have suf- 
ficiently informed us), and that it is not what it 
was when it came originally out of the hands oi 
its Maker ; so that die words which St. Paul 
spake with reference to the Jews in particalar, 
are justly applicable to the present state of man- 
kind in general, there is none righteous, no not 
one ; — they are all gone out of the way, they are 
together become unprofitable ; there is none that 
doeth good, no not one^\ 

" Avypij yap (two iraZhg IpiQ ISKAirrovtra \i\ri9tv* 
Sv/i^vro^. Pythag, Aur, Carm, 

A fatal inbred strife does lark within, 
The cause of all this misery and sin. 

^ Rom. iii. 10. 12. 







DOTH CONSIST. 27 

This is a very mortifying thought; but an un- 
deniable truth, and one of the first principles of 
that science we are treating of, and very neces- 
sary to be attended to, if we would be sensible of 
the duty and obligations we owe to Christ as the 
great Redeemer ; in which character he appears 
for the relief and recovery of mankind under this 
their universal depravity. 

The two miserable effects of the human apos- 
tacy are, (1.) That perverse dispositions grow up 
in our minds from early infancy, soon settle into 
vicious habits, and render us weak and unwilling 
to obey the dictates of conscience and' reason: 
this is commonly called the dominion of sin. 
And, (2.) At the same time we are subject to 
the displeasure of God, and the penalty of his 
law; which is commonly called the condemna- 
tion of sin. Now in both these respects did 
Christ the Lamb of God come to take away the 
tin of the world; i. e. to take away the reigning 
power of it by the atonement of his blood; to 
sanctify us by his Spirit, and justify us by his 
death ; by the former he reconciles us to God, 
and by the latter he reconciles God to us^^, and 
is at once our righteousness and strength. He 
died to purchase for us the happiness we had for- 
feited, and sends his grace and spirit to fit us for 
that happiness he hath thus purchased. So com- 
plete is his redemption ! so precisely adapted is 

'^ Bj this phrase I do not mean that Grod was implacable, 
or absolutely irreconcilable to as, till he was pacified bj the 
Ticarioas sufferings of his l^on ; for how then ooald he have 
ippointed him to die as onr propitiatory sacrifice? Bnt that 
the death of Christ is the clearest demonstration of God's will- 
ingness to be actually reconciled to os. 

C2 



28 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

the remedy he hath provided, to the malady we had 
contracted! ' O blessed Redeemer of wretched 
ruined creatures^ how unspeakable are the obli- 
gations I owe thee ! But all ! ,how insensible am 
I to those obligations ! the saddest symptom of 
degeneracy I find in my nature is that base in- 
gratitude of heart which renders me so unaffected 
with thine astonishing compassions. Till I know 
thee, I cannot know myself; and when I survey 
myself, may I ever think of thee ! May the daily 
consciousness of my weakness and guilt lead my 
thoughts to thee ; and may every thought of thee 
kindle in my heart the most ardent glow of grati- 
tude to thee, O thou divine, compassionate Friend, 
Lover, and Redeemer of mankind !' 

Whoever then he be that calls himself a Chris- 
tian ; that is, who professes to take the gospel of 
Christ for a divine revelation, and the only rule 
of his faith and practice ; but at the same time 
pays a greater regard to the dictates of men than 
to the doctrines of Christ; who loses sight of that 
great example of Christ which should animate 
his Christian walk, is unconcerned about his ser- 
vice, honour, and interest, and excludes the con- 
sideration of his merits and atonement from his 
hope of happiness, he forgets that he is a Chris- 
tian: he does not consider in what relation he 
stands to Christ (which is one great part of his 
character), and consequently discovers a great 
degree of self-ignorance. 

(3.) Self-Knowledge, moreover, implies a due 
attention to the several relations in which we 
stand to our fellow^reaiures;" fthdThe obliga- 
niottS Ih&t result ff6m thence. 



DOTH CONSIST. KS^^WTh^ 

If we know ourselyes, we shall remember the 
condescension, benignity, and love, that is due to 
inferiors ; the affability, friendship, and kindness, 
we ought to show to equals ; the regard, defer- 
ence, and honour, which belong to superiors ; 
and the candour, integrity, and benevolence, we 
owe to all. 

The particular duties requisite in these rela- 
tions are too numerous to be here mentioned. 
Let it suffice to say, that if a man doth not well 
consider the several relations of life in which he 
stands to others, and does not take care to pre- 
serve the decorum and propriety of those rela- 
tions, he may justly be charged with self-igno- 
rance. 

And this is so evident in itself, and so gene- 
rally allowed, that nothing is more common than 
to say, when a person does not behave with due 
decency tbwards his superiors, such a one does 
not understand himself. But why may not this 
with equal justice be said of those who act in an 
ill manner towards their inferiors ? The expres- 
sion, I know, is not so often thus applied ; but 
I see no reason why it should not, since one is 
as common and as plain an instance of self- 
ignorance as the other. Nay, of the two, perhaps 
men in general are more apt to be defective in 
their duty and behaviour towards those beneath 
them than they are towards those that are above 
them. And the reason seems to be, because an 
apprehension of the displeasure of their superiors, 
and the detrimental consequences which may ac- 
crue from thence/ may be a check upon Uiem, 
and engage them to pay the just regards which 



30 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

they expect. But there being no cheek to re- 
strain them from violating the duties they owe to 
infeiiors (from whose displeasure they have little 
to fear) they are more ready, under certain temp- 
tations, to treat them in an unbecoming manner* 
And as wisdom and self-knowledge will direct 
a man to be particularly careful, lest he neglect 
the duties he is most apt to forget ; so as to the 
duties he owes to inferiors, in which he is most in 
danger of transgressing, he ought more strongly 
to urge upon himself the indispensable obliga- 
tions of religion and conscience. And if he does 
not, but suffers himself, through the violence of 
ungovemed passion, to be transported into the 
excesses of rigour, tyranny, and oppression, to- 
wards those whom God and nature have put into 
his power, it is certain he does not know him- 
self; is not acquainted with his own particular 
weakness; is ignorant of the duty of his rela- 
tion ; and, whatever he may think of himself, hath 
not the true spirit of government; because he 
wants the art of self-government. For he that 
is unable to govern himself can never be fit to 
govern others. 

Would we know ourselves, then, we must con^^ 
sider ou rselves as creature s, as Christia ns, ^pd 
as men ; and remember the obligations, which, 
as such, we are under to God, to Christ, and our 
fellow men, in the several relations we bear to 
them, in order to maintain the propriety, and 
fulfil the duties of those relations. 



DOTH CONSIST. 81 



CHAP. IV. 

WE filUST DULY CONSIDER THE RANK AND STATION OF UFB 
IN WHICH PROVIDENCE HAS PLACED US, AND WHAT IT 18 
THAT BECOMES AND ADORNS US. 

3. A MAN that knows himself will deUberately | 
consider and attend to t he particular rank and 
^station in life in which Providence hath placed 
him ; and what is the duty and decorum of that 
station ; what part is given him to act, what cha- 
racter to maintain ; and with what decency and 
propriety he acts that part, or maintains that 
character. 

For a man to assume a character, or aim at a 
part that does not helong to him, is affectation. 
And whence is it that affectation of any kind ap> 
pears so ridiculous, and exposes men to universal 
and just contempt, hut because it is a certain 
indication of self-ignorance ? Whence is it that 
many seem so willing to be thought something, 
when they are nothing, and seek to excel in those 
things in which they cannot, whilst they neglect 
those things in which they may excel? Whence 
is it that they counteract the intention of nature 
and providence ; that when these intended them 
one thing, they would fain be another ? Whence, 
I say, but from an ignorance of themselves, the 
rank of life they are in, and of the part and cha- 
racter which properly belong to them ? 

It is a just observation, and an excellent docu- 
ment of a moral heathen, * That hu man life is a 
drama, and mankind the actors ; wno have iheir 



32 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

several parts assigned them by the master of the 
theatre, who stands behind the scenes, and ob- 
serves in what manner every one acts. Some 
have a short part allotted them, and some a long 
one : some a low, and some a high one. It is 
not he that acts the highest or most shining part 
on the stage, that comes off with the greatest 
applause ; but he that acts his part best, what- 
ever it be. To take care then to act our respec- 
tive parts in life well, is ours ; but to choose whai 
part in life we shall act, is not ours, but God's ^.' 
— But a man can never act his part well, if he 
does not attend to it; does not know what be- 
comes it; much less if he affect to act another, 
which nature never designed him. It is ^ways 
self-ignorance that leads a man to act out of 
character. 

It is a mean and low station of life thou art in? 
Know then, that Providence calls thee to the 
exercise of industry, contentment, submission, 
patience, hope, and humble dependence on him, 
and a respectful deference to thy superiors. In 
this way thou mayst shine through thine obscu- 
rity ; and render thyself amiable in the sight of 
God and man : and not only so, but find more 
satisfaction, safety, and self-enjoyment than they 
who move in a higher sphere, from whence they 
are in danger of fcdling. . 

But hath Providence called thee to act in a 



1 Epictet, Enehifi cap. xxiii. — Qaomodo fa^nln. gjo yjta 



■ ^ptctet. jinentri cap. xxiu. — uaomoao rannin . gic vita : 
non qaam ain, sed qukm bene acta sit, refert. Sen, Ep, Ixix. 
ad fin. liife is a stage-play ; it matters not bow long we act» 
so we act well« — Non est bonom yivere, sed ben^ Tivere. Idm 
de Benef, lib. ill. cap. xxxi. It is not life, but living well» 
tbat is tiie Ueasing* ' 



DOTH CONSIST. 33 

more public character, and for a more extensive 
benefit to the world ? — Thy first care then ought 
to be, that thy example, as far as its influence 
reaches, may be an encouragement to the prac- 
tice of universal virtue. And next, to shine in 
those virtues especially, which best adorn thy 
station; as benevolence, charity, wisdom, mo- 
deration, firmness, and inviolable integrity: with 
,an undismayed fortitude to press through all op- 
position in accomplishing those ends which thou 
hast a prospect and probability of attaining for 
the apparent good of mankind. 

And as self-acquaintance will teach us what 
part in life we ought to act, so the knowledge of 
that will show us whom we ought to imitate, and 
wherein. We are not to take example of con- 
duct from those who have a very different part 
assigned them from ours, unless in those things 
that are universally ornamental and exemplary. 
If we do, we shall but expose our affectation and 
weakness, and ourselves to contempt for acting 
out of character ; for what is decent in one may I 
be ridiculous in another. Nor must we blindly ^ 
follow those who move in the same sphere, and 
sustain the same character with ourselves; but 
only in those things that are befitting that charac- 
ter. For it is not the person, but the character, 
we are to regard ; and to imitate him no further 
than he keeps to that. 

This caution particularly concerns youth, who | 
are apt to imitate their superiors very implicitly, j 
and especially such as shine in the profession 
they themselves ai'e intended for : but, for want 
of judgment to distinguish what is fit and decent, 

c3 



34 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

] are apt to imitate their very foibles; which a 
partiality for their persons makes them deem as 
excellences: and hereby they become doubly 
ridiculous, both by acting out of character them- 
selves, and by a weak and servile imitation of 
others in the very things in which they do so too. 
To maintain a character then with decency, we 
must keep our eye only upon that which is proper 
to it. 

sd \ In fine, as no man can excel in every thing, we 
must consider what part is allotted us to act in 
the station in which Providence hath placed us, 
and to keep to that, be it what it will, and seek 

?^ 1 to excel in that only. 



CHAP. V. 

EVERY MAN SHOULD BE WELL ACQUAINTED WITH HIS OWN 
TALENTS AND CAPAOTIES; AND IN WHAT MANNER THEY 
ARE TO BE EXERCISED AND IMPROVED TO THE GREATEST 
ADVANTAGE. 

4. A MAN cannot be said to know himself, till 
he is well a cduainted with his proper talents and 
cap acitiesj ^knows for what enas he received 
them ; and how they may be most fitly applied 
and improved for those ends. 

A wise and self-understanding man, instead 
of aiming at talents he hath not, will set about 
cultivating those he hath ; as the way in which 
Providence points out his proper usefulness. 

As in order to the edification of the church, the 
Spirit of God at first conferred upon the minis- 
ters of it a great variety of spiritual gifts ^, so 

» 1 Cor. xu. 8—10. 



V 



DOTH CONSIST. 35 

for the good of the community^ God is pleased 
now to confer upon men a great variety of natu- 
ral talents ; and every one hath his proper gift 
of God; one after this maimer ^ another after 
thai^. And every one is to take care not to 
neglect^ but to stir up the gift of God which is 
in him^, because it was given him to be im- 
proved : and not only the abuse, but the neglect 
of it must hereafter be accounted for. Witness 
the doom of that unprofitable servant, who laid 
up his single pound in a napkin^: and of him 
who went and hid his talent in the earth^. 

It is certainly a sign of great self-ignorance, 
for a man to venture out of his depth, or attempt 
any thing he wants opportunity or capacity to 
accompUsh. And therefore a wise man will 
consider with himself, before he undertakes any 
thing of consequence, whether he hath abilities 
to carry him through it, and whether the issue of 
it is like to be for his credit; lest he sink under 
the weight he lays upon himself, and incur the 
just censure of rashness, presumption, and folly. 
See Luke xiv. 28 — 32 ^ 

« 1 Cor. vii. 7. ^ i Xm. iv. 14.— 2 Tim. i. 6. 

* Luke xix. 20, 24. ^ Matt. uv. 25, 30. 

• Bnccae 

Noscenda est mensnra tnse, spectandaque rebas 
In sommis, minimis .... Juv, Sat, xi. 

. . . .versante din quid ferre recasant 
Quid yaleant Homeri. . . . Hor, de Art. Poet, 

He that takes up a burden that is too heavy for him is in 
a fair way to break his back. 

AvBpfairt, irpuTov €7rt(ric£T//ai, oiroiov etrri to irpayfia* nra 
KM Ttiv fnavTB (ftvtnv KaTafiaBt, ti dvvafrai Patrraffcu, 

Epict, Enehir, cap. xxxvi. 
In erery bosioess consider, first, what it is you are about ; 



36 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

It is no uncommon thing for some who excel 
in one thing, to imagine they may excel in every 
thing ; and, not content witii that share of merit 
which every one allows them, are still catching 
at that which doth not belong to them. Why 
should a good orator wish to be thought a poet? 
Why must a celebrated divine set up for a poli- 
tician? Or a statesman affect the philosopher? 
Or a mechanic the scholar? Or a wise man labour 
i to be thought a wit? This is a weakness that 
flows from self-ignorance, and is incident to the 
greatest men. Nature seldom forms a universal 
genius ; but deals out her favours in the present 
state with a parsimonious hand.- — Many a maq, 
by this foible, hath weakened a well established 
reputation ''^. 

and then your own ability, whether it be sufficient to carry 
yon through it. 

^ no n omnia poagnmns omnes. Virg. 

CaecilioiT^ famoos rhetorician^ or Sicily, who lived in the 
time of Angnstas, and wrote a treatise on the Sablime (which 
is censored by Longinns, in the beginning of his), was a man 
of a hasty and enterprising spirit, and very apt to overshoot 
himself on all occasions -, and particularly ventured out of his 
depth in his comparison of Demosthenes and Cicero. Where* 
upon Plutarch makes this sage and candid remark : " If (saith 
he) it was a thing obvious and easy for every man to know 
himself, possibly that saying, yvwOi (Xfatrrov, had not passed 
for a divine oracle." Plut, Liv, vol. vii. p. 347. 



I 



1 



DOTH CONSIST, 87 



CHAP. VI. 

WE BfUST BE WELE ACQUAINTED WITH OUR INABILITIES, AND 
THOSE THINGS IN WHICH WE ARE NATURALLY DEFICIENT, 
AS WELL AS THOSE IN WHICH WE EXCEL. 

5. We must, in order to a thorough self-ac- 
quaintance, not only consider our talents and 
proper abilities, but have an eye to our frailties 
and d^.fjcien^.ief^. that we may know where our 1 
weakness as well as our strength lies. Other- 
wise, like Samson, we may run ourselves into 
infinite temptations and troubles. 

Every man hath a weak side. Every wise 
man knows where it is, and will be sure to keep 
a double guard there. ^ 

There is some wisdom in concealing a weak- 
ness. 

This cannot be done till it be first known; 
nor can it be known without a good degree of 
self-acquaintance. 

It is strange to observe what pains some men 
are at to expose themselves; to signalize their 
own folly; and to set out to the most public view 
those things which they ought to be ashamed to 
think should ever enter into their character. But 
so it is ; some men seem to be ashamed of those 
things whicb would be their glory, whilst others 
glory in their shame ^. 

The greatest weakness in a man is to publish 
his weaknesses, and to appear fond to have them 
known. But vanity wiU often prompt a man to 

> Pha. iiL 19. 



38 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

this ; who, unacquainted with the measure of his 
capacities, attempts things out of his power, and 
beyond his reach ; whereby he makes the world 
acquainted with two things to his disadvantage, 
which they were ignorant of before ; viz. his de- 
ficiency, and his self-ignorance in appearing so 
blind to it. 

It is ill judged (though very common) to be 
less ashamed of a want of temper than under- 
standing. For it is no real dishonour or fault in 
a man to have but a small ability of mind, pro- 
vided he hath not the vanity to set up for a genius 
(which would be as ridiculous, as for a man of 
small strength and stature of body to set up for 
a champion), because this is what he cannot help. 
But a man may in a good measure correct the 
fault of his natural temper, if he be well ac- 
quainted with it, and duly watchful over it. — 
And therefore to betray a prevailing weakness of 
temjper, or an ungovemed passion, diminishes a 
man's reputation much more than to discover a 
weakness of judgment or understanding. — But 
what is most dishonourable of all is, for a man 
at once to discover a great genius and an un- 
govemed mind. Because that strength of reason 
and understanding he is master of gives him a 
great advantage for the government of his pas- 
sions. And therefor^ his suffering himself not- 
withstanding to be governed by them, shows that 
he hath too much neglected or misapplied his 
natural talent, and willingly submitted to the 
tyranny of those lusts and passions, over which 
nature had furnished him with abiUties to have 
secured an easy conquest. 



DOTH CONSIST. 39 

A wise man hath his foibles as well as a fooL 
But the difference between t^em is, that the 
foibles of the one are known to himself, and con- 
cealed from the world ; the foibles of the other 
are known to the world, and concealed from him- 
self. The wise man sees those frailties in him- 
self, which others cannot; but the fool is blind to 
those blemishes in his character which are con- 
spicuous to every body else. Whence it appears, 
that self-knowledge is that which makes the main 
difference between a wise man and a fool, in the 
moral sense of that word. 



CHAP. VII. 

CONCERNING THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR CONSTTrUTIONAL 

SINS. 

6. Self-acquaintance shows a man the par- 1 
ticular sins he is most exposed and addicted to; i 
and discovers not only wliat is ridiculous, but: 
what is criminal in his conduct and temper. * 

A man's outward actions are generally the ' 
plainest index of his inward dispositions : and by 
the allowed sins of his life, you may know the 
reigning vices of his mind. Is he addicted to 
luxury and debauch? Sensuality then appears to 
be his prevailing taste. Is he given to revenge 
and cruelty ? Choler and maUce then reign in his 
heart. Is he confident, bold, and enterprising? 
Ambitipn appears to be the secret spring. Is he ' 
sly and designing, given to intrigue and artifice? ; 
You may conclude there is a natural subtilty of j 



40 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

I temper that prompts him to this ; and this secret 
disposition is criminal in proportion to the degree 
in which these outward actions, which spring from 
it, transgress the bounds of reason and virtue. 

Every man hath something pecuUar in the turn 
or cast of his mind, which distinguishes him as 
much as the particular constitution of his body. 
And both these, viz. his particular turn of mind 
and constitution of body, not only incline and dis- 
pose him to some kind of sins more than to others, 
but render the practice of certain virtues much 
more easy ^. 

Now these sins to which men are commonly 
most inclined, and the temptations which they 

' Men, with regard to their bodies and bodily appetites, 
are pretty much fd^ke ; bat with regard to their souls, and 
their mental tastes and dispositions, they are often as difTerent 
as if they were quite of another species, governed by different 
views, entertained with different pleasures, animated with 
different hopes, and affected by different motives, and distin- 
guished by as different tempers and inclinations, as if they 
were not of the same kind. 'So that I am very ready to be- 
lieve that there is not a greater difference between an angel 
and some of the best and wisest of men ; or between a devil 
and some of the worst and wickedest of men, with regard to 
their tempers and dispositions, than there is between some 
sort of men and some others. And what inclines me to this 
sentiment is, considering the easy transition which nature 
always observes in passing from one order or kind of beings 
to another (which I have before taken notice of), together with 
the prodigious difference there appears to be between some 
and others of the human species, almost in every thing be- 
longing to their soals. For some there are, " in whom (as 
one expresses it) one would think nature had placed every 
thing the wrong way ;" depraved in their opinions, unintel- 
ligible in their reasoning, irregular in their actions, and vici- 
ous in every disposition. Whilst in some others we see al- 
most every thing amiable and excellent that can adorn and 
exalt the human mind, under the disadvantages of mortality^ 



BOTH CONSIST. 41 

have least power to resist, are, and not impro- 
perly, called their constitutional sins ; their pecu- 
liar frailties ; and, in Scripture, their otim iniqui- 
ties^ y and. the sins which ^jdo most easily beset 
them^. IrVjfc/lh^ 3^» 

* As in the humours of the body, so in the 
vices of the mind, there is one predominant which 
has an ascendant over us, and leads and governs 
us. It is in the body of sin, what the heart is in 
the body of our nature ; it begins to live first and 
dies last: and whilst it lives, it communicates 
life and spirit to the whole body of sin; and 
when it dies, the body of sin expires with it. It 
is the sin to which our constitution leads, our cir- 
cumstances betray, and custom enslaves us ; the 
sin to which not our virtues only, but vices too, 
lower their topsails and submit; the sin which, 
when we would impose upon God and our con- 
sciences, we excuse and disguise with all ima- 
ginable artifice and sophistry ; but, when we are 
sincere with both, we oppose first and conquer 
last It is, in a word, the sin which reigns and 
rules in the unregenerate, and too often alarms 
and disturbs (ah ! that I could say no more) the 
regenerate *.'. 

Some are more inclined to the sins of the flesh; 
sensuality, intemperance, uncleanness, sloth, self- 
indulgence, and excess in animal gratifications. 
Others, to the sins of the spirit, pride, malice^ 
covetousness, ambition, wrath, revenge, envy, &c^ 

« Psalm xviu. 23. » He b. xii. 1 . 

* fl afiapTia evTrepwrraroc, the toeU^etrcunutanced sin* 
^ See Dr. Luoas's Sermons, yoL L p. 15 !• 



I 



42 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

And I am persuaded there are few but, uppn a 
thorough search into themselves, may find that 
some one of these sins hath ordinarily a greater 
power over them than the rest. Others oftea 
observe it in them, if they themselves do not. 
And for a man not to know his predominant ini- 
quity is great self-ignorance indeed; and a sign 
that he has all his life lived far from home : be- 
cause he is not acquainted with that relating to 
himself, which every one, who is but half an hour 
in his company perhaps, may be able to inforin 
him of. Hence proceeds that extreme weakness 
which some discover in censuring others for the 
very same faults they are guilty of themselves, 
and perhaps in a much higher degree ; on which 
the apostle Paul animadverts, Rom. ii. 1 ^. 

It must be owned, it is an irksome and a dis- 
agreeable business for a man to turn his own ac- 
cuser; to search after his own faults, and keep 
his eye upon that which gives him shame and 
pain to see. It is like 'tearing open an old 
wound. But ii is better to do this than to let 
it mortify. The wounds of the conscience, like 
those of the body, cannot be well cured till they 
are searched to the bottom ; and they cannot be 
searched without pain. A man who is engaged 
in the study of himself must be content to know 
the worst of himself ^. 

^ Qnis tnlerit Gracchos de seditione qnerentes ? 
Clodius accnsat Meohos 7 CatUina Cethegum ? 

Juv, Sat, xii. 

? O mmifl gravis angnstia! Si me inspicio, non tolero 
meipsmn : si non inspicio, nesoio meipsom. Si me considero, 
terret me facies miea : si me non considero, fallit me damn&tio 
mea. Si me yideo, horror est intolerabilis : si non video 



BOTH CONSIST. 43 

Do not therefore shut your eyes against your 
darling sin, or be averse to find it out. Why 
should you study to conceal or excuse it, and 

fondly cherish that viper in your bosom? 

' Some men deaL by their sins as some ladies do 
by their persons. When their beauty is decayed, 
they seek to hide it from themselves by false 
glasses, and from others by paint. So, many 
seek to hide their sins from themselves by false 
glosses, and from others by excuses or false co- 
lours^.' But the greatest cheat they put upon 
themselves. They that cover their sins shall not 
prosper^. It is dangerous self-flattery to give 
soft and smoothing names to sins, in order to 
disguise their nature. Rather lay your hand 
upon your heart, and thrust it into your bosom^^, 
though it come out (as Moses' did) leprous as 

SttOW^^. 

mors est inevitabills.— -" O grievoas streight ! If I look ioto | 
myself, I camiot endare myself : if I look not into myself, I * 
cannot know myself. If I consider myself, my own face af- 
frights me : if I consider not myself, my damnation deceiyes i 
me. If I see myself, my horror is intolerable : if I see not ] 
myself, death is onayoidable." An^£baA i 

8 Baxter. » Prov. xxviii, 13. »« Exod. iv. 6. 

" Initinmest salntw, , nn^j*'" f^niiliii nam qai peccare se 
nescit, corrigi non vmt. Deprehendas te oportet, anteqniun 
emendes. Quidam yitiis gloriantur. Ta existimas aliqnid de 
remedio cogitare, qoi mala sua yirtntmn loco nomerant ? Ideo 
qnantam potes teipsum ooargne: inquire in te: accnsatoris 
primom partibns fangere, deinde jadicis, noyissim^ depreca- 
toris. Aliqaando te offende. Sen. Eoist, x x y iii. — " The know- 
ledge of sin is the first step IbWrfras amendment : for he that 
does not know he hath offended, is not willing to be reproyed. 
Yon must therefore find out yourself, before you can amend 
yourself. Some glory in their yices. And do you imagine 
they haye any thought about reforming who place their yery 
yices in the room of yirtues ? Therefore reproye thyself : 



44 WHEREIN SELP-KNOWLEDGE, 

And to find out our most beloved sin, let us 
consider what are those worldly objects or 
amusements which ^ve us the highest delight; 
this, it is probable, will lead us directly to some 
one of our darling iniquities, if it be a sin of 
commission: and what are those duties which 
we read or hear of from the word of God, to 
which we find ourselves most disinclined ? And, 
this, in all likelihood, will help us to detect some 
of our peculiar sins of omission ; which without 
such previous examination we may not be sensi- 
ble of. And thus we may make a proficiency in 
one considerable branch of self-knowledge^. 

search thyself very narrowly. First tnni aoonser to thyself, 
then a judge, and then a suppliant. And dare for onoe to 
displease thyself. 

^' Et hoc ipsom argomentnm est in melius translatl anlmi, 
quod yitia sna, qnse adhnc ignorabat, videt. Sen. EpUt, \u 
~-" It is a good argument of a reformed mind, that it sees 
those vices in itself, which it was before ignorant of." 

A man's predominant sin usually arises out of his predominant 
passion ; which, therefore, he should diligently observe. The 
nature and force of which is beautifully described by a late 
great master of English verse. 

On different senses different objects strike. 
Hence different passions more or less inflame. 
As strong or weak the organs of the frame : 
And hence one master-passion in the breast, 
like Aaron's serpent, swailows up the rest« 
Nature its mother, habit is its nurse ; 
Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse ; 
Reason itself but gives it edge and power. 
As heaven's bless'd beam turns vinegar more sour. 
Ah ! if she lend not arms as well as rules, 
What can she more than tell us we are fools? 
Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend ; 
A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend ! 

Pope's Essay on Man* 



'BOTH CONSIST. 45 

CHAP. VIII. 

THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR MOST DANGEROUS TEMPTATIONS 
NECESSARY TO SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

7. A MAN that rightly knows himself is ac^ 
quainted with his pecuhar temptation s; and 
Knows wben, ana m wbai circumstances, he is 
in the greatest danger of transgressing. 

Reader, if ever you would know yourself, you 
must examine this point thoroughly. And if you 
have never done it, make a pause when you have 
read this chapter, and do it now. Consider in 
what company you are most apt to lose the pos* 
session and government of yourself; on what 
occasions you are apt to he most vain and un- 
guarded, most warm and precipitant. Flee that 
company, avoid those occasions, if you would 
keep your conscience clear. What is it that rohs 
you most of your time and temper ? If you have 
a due regard to the improvement of the one, and 
the preservation of the other, you will regret such 
a loss ; and shun the occasions of it as carefully 
as you would a road heset with rohbers. 

But especially must you attend to the occa- 
sions which most usually betray you into your 
favourite vices; and consider the spring from 
whence they arise, and the circumstances which 
most favour them. They arise doubtless from 
your natural temper, which strongly disposes and 
inclines you to them. That temper then, or par- 
ticular turn of desire, must be carefully watched 
over as a most dangerous quarter ; and the op- 
portunities and circumstances which favour those 



46 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

inclinations must be resolutely avoided as the 
strongest temptations. For the way to subdue a 
criminal inclination is, first, to avoid the known 
occasions that excite it; and then to curb the 
first motions of it ^. And thus haying no oppor- 
tunity of being indulged, it will of itself in time 
lose its force, and fail of its wonted victory. 

The surest way to conquer is sometimes to 
decline a battle; to weary out the enemy by 
keeping him at bay. Fabius Maximus did not 
use this stratagem more successfully against 
Hannibal than a Christian may against his pe- 
culiar vice, if he be but watchful of his advan- 
tages. It is dangerous to provoke an unequal 
enemy to the fight, or to run into such a situa- 
tion where we cannot expect to escape without 
a disadvantageous encounter. 

It is of unspeakable importance, in order to 
self-knowledge and sdif-govemment, to be ac- 
quainted with all the accesses and avenues to 
sin, and to observe which way it is that we our- 
selves too often approach it; and to set reason 
and conscience to guard those passes, those usual 
inlets to vice, which if a man once enters, he will 
find a retreat extremely difficult^. 

* Watchfulness, which is always necessary, is 
chiefly so when the first assaults are made. For 
then the enemy is most easily repulsed; if we 



1 



* PrinoiDils obs^ : ser6 medicina paratar 

diiin mala per longas invalnere moras. Ovij^ 

' me vestigia terrent 

Omnia te advdrsum s'piectantia, nnlla retrorsnm. Hot, 

Faeilis descen s gs ATern i, **"** 

Sed rerocare gradumT&c. Virg. 




DOTH CONSIST, 47 

neyer suffer him to get within us, but upon the 
v«ry first approach draw up our forces, and fight 
him without the gate. And this will be more\ 
manifest, if we observe by what methods and de- | 
grees temptations grow upon us. The first thing 
that presents itself to the mind is a plain single 
thought; this straight is improved into a strong 
imagination ; that again enforced by a sensible de- 
light; then follow evil motions; and when these 
are once stirred, there wants nothing but the as- J 
sent of the will, and then the work is finished. 
Now the first steps to this are seldom thought 
worth our care ; sometimes not taken notice of; 
so that the enemy is frequently got close up to 
us, and even within our trenches, before we ob- 
serve him^.' 

As men have their particular sins, which do 
most easily beset them ; so they have their parti- 
cular temptations which do most easily overcome 
them. That may be a very great temptation to 
one which is none at all to another. And if a 
man does not know what are his greatest tempta- 
tions, he must have been a great stranger indeed 
to the business of self-employment. 

As the subtle enemy of mankind takes care to 
draw men gradually into sin, so he usually draws 
them by degrees into temptation. As he disguises 
the sin, so he conceals the temptation to it; well 
knowing that were they but once sensible of the 
danger of their sin, Ihey would be ready to be 
on their guard' against it. Would we know our- 
selves thoroughly then, we must get acquainted 
not only with our most usual temptations, that 

3 Stanhope's Thomas & Kempis, p. 22. 



i 



>•«'• 



48 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

we be not unawares djrdwn into sin, but with the 
previous steps and "^eparatory circumstances, 
which make way for those temptations, that we 
be not drawn unawares into the occasions of sin ; 
for those things which lead us into temptations 
are to be considered as temptations, as well as 
those which immediately lead us into sin. And 
a man that knows himself will be aware of his 
remote temptations, as, well as the more imme- 
diate ones ; e. g. If he find the company of a 
passionate man is a temptation (as Solomon tells 
us it is, Prov. xxii. 24, 25) he will not only avoid 
it, but those occasions that may lead him into 
it. And the petition in the Lord's Prayer makes 
it as much a man's duty to be upon his guard 
against temptation as under it. Nor can a man 
pray from his heart that God would not lead 
him into temptation, if he take no care himself to 
avoid it. 



CHAP. IX. 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE DISCOVERS THE SECRET PREJUDICES OF 

THE HEART. 

8. Another important branch of self-know- 
ledge is, for a man to be acquainted with his own 
jgre judices ; or those secret jprepossessions oi ins 
TtSftFl, whTch though so deep and latent, that he 
may not be sensible of them, are often so strong 
and prevalent, as to give a mighty but imper- 
ceptible bias to the mind. 

There is no one particular that I know of 
wherein self-knowl,edge more eminently consists 



DQTH CONSIST. 49 

than it does in this. It being therefore so essen- 
tial a branch of my subject, and a point to which 
hien seldom pay an attention equal to its im- 
portance, I beg leave to treat it with a Uttle more 
precision. 

These prejudices of the human mind may be 
considered with regard to opinions, persons, and 
things. 

(1.) Witihi regard to opinions. 

It is a common observation, but well expressed 
by a late celebrated writer, ' That we set out in 
life with such poor beginnings of knowledge, and 
grow up under such remains of superstition and 
ignorance, such influences of company and fa- 
shion, such insinuations of pleasure, &c, that it is 
110 wonder if men get habits of thinking only in 
one way; that these habits in time grow rigid 
and confirmed; and so their minds come to be 
overcast with thick prejudices, scarce penetrable ^ 
by any ray of truth, or light of reason^.' 

There is no man but is more attached to one 
particular set or scheme of opinions in philoso- 
phy, politics, and religion, than he is to another; 
I mean if he hath employed his thoughts at all 
about them. The question we should examine 
then is. How came we by those attachments? 
Whence are we so fond of these particular no- 
tions? Did we come fairly by them? or were 
they imposed upon us, and dictated to our easy 
belief, before we were able to judge of them ? 
Tliis is most likely. For the impressions we 
early receive generally grow up with us, and 
are those we least care to part with. However, 

^ See Religion of Nature delin. p. 129. 

D 



60 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

which way soever we came by them, they must 
be reexammed, and brought to the touchstone 
of sound sen^e, solid reason, and plain scripture. 
If they will 'not bear this after hard rubbing, 
they must be dismissed, as no genuine principles 
of tiruth, but as counterfeits imposed upon us 
under guise and semblance of it. 

And as reason and scripture must discover our 
prejudices to us, so they only can help, us to get 
rid of them. By these we are to rectify, and to 
these are we to conform, all our opinions and 
sentiments in religion, as our only standard, 
exclusive of all other rules, light, or authority, 
whatsoever. 

And care must further be taken that we do 
not make scripture and reason bend and buckle 
to our notions; which will mther confirm our 
prejudices than cure them. For whatever can- 
not evidently be proved without the help of 
overstrained metaphors, and the arts of sophistry, 
is much to be suspected; which used to make 
Archbishop Tillotson say, Non amo argutias in 
theologia ; I do not love subtilties in divinity. 
But, 

(2.) The human mind is very apt to be pre-^ 
judiced either for or against certain persons as 
well as certain sentiments. And as prejudice 
will lead a man to talk very unreasonably with 
regard to the latter, so will it lead him to act as 
unreasonably with regard to the former. 

What is the reason, for instance, that we can- 
not help having a more hearty affection for some 
persons than others? Is it from a similarity of 
taste and temper ? Or something in their address 



DOTH CONSIST. 61 

that flatters our vanity? Or something in their 
humour that hits our fancy ? Or something in their 
conversalion that improves our understanding? 
Or a certain sweetness of disposition, and agree- 
ableness of manner, that is naturally engaging? 
Or by benefits received or expected from them ? 
Or from some eminent and distinguished excel- 
lency in them? Or from none of these ; but some- 
thing else, we cannot tell what? — Such sort of 
inquiries will show us whether our esteem and 
affections be rightly placed; or flow from mere 
instinct, blind prejudice, or something worse. 

And so, on the other hand, with regard to our 
disaffection towards any one^ or the disgust we 
have taken against him ; if we would know our- 
selves, we must examine into the bottom of this ; 
and see not only what is the pretended but true 
cause of it: whether it be justifiable, and our 
resentments duly proportioned to it. — Is his man- 
ner of thinking, talking, and acting, quite dif- 
ferent from mine, and therefore what I cannot 
approve? Or have I received some real aflront 
or injury from him? Be it so, my continued re*- 
sentment against him, on either of these accounts, 
may be owing, notwithstanding, more to some 
unreasonable prejudice in me than to any real 
fault in him. 

For as to the former: his way of thinking, 
talking, and acting, may possibly be juster than 
my own ; which the mere force of custom and 
habit only makes me prefer to his. However, 
be it ever so wrong, he may not have had the 
same advantage of improving his understanding, 
address, and conduct, as I have had ; and there- 

d2 



62 WHEREJN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

fore his defects herein are more excusable. And' 
he may have many other kind of excellences 
which I have not. — * But he is not only ignorant 
and unmannered, but unsufferably vain, con- 
ceited, and overbearing at the same time.' — 
Why, that perhaps he cannot help. It is the 
fault of his nature. He is the object of pity ra- 
ther than resentment. And had I such a dispo- 
sition by nature, I should perhaps, with all my 
self- improvement, find it a difficult thing to ma- 
nage. And therefore, though I can never choose 
such a one for an agreeable companion, yet I 
ought not to harbour a dislike to him, but love, 
and pity, and pray for him, as a person under a 
great misfortune ; and be thankful that I am not 
under the same. — * But he is quite blind to this 
fault of his temper, and does not appear to be in 
the least sensible of it.' — Why, that is a greater 
misfortune still; and he ought to be the more 
pitied. 

And as to the other pretended ground of dis- 
gust, ' he hath often offended and injured me.' 
Let me consider, (1.) whether any offence was 
really intended ; whether I do not impute that to 
ill nature, which was only owing to ill manners; 
or that to design, which proceeded only from 
ignorance. Do I not take offence before it is 
given ? If so, the fault is mine, and not his ; and 
the resentment I have conceived against him, I 
ought to turn upon myself^. — ^Again, (2.) Did 

' For every trifle scorn to take offence ; 
That always shows great pride or little sense. 
Good nature and good sense most always join \ 
To err is human, to forgive divine. 



DOTH CONSIST. 58 

/ not provoke him to it when I knew his temper? 
The fault is still my own. I did, or might know 
the pride, passion, perverseness of his nature; 
why dien did I exasperate him? A man that 
would needlessly rouse a lion, must not expect 
always to come off so favourably as the hero of 
La Mancha. But (3.) Suppose I were not the 
aggressor; yet, how came I into his company? 
Who led me into the temptation ? He hath acted 
according to his nature in what he hath done ; but 
I have not acted according to my reason in laying 
myself so open to him. I knew him; why did 
I not shun him as I would any other dangerous 
animal that does mischief by instinct ? If I must 
needs put my finger into a wasp's nest, why 
should I blame them for stinging me ? — Or, (4.) 
If I could not avoid his company, why did I not 
arm myself? Why did I venture defenceless into 
so much danger ? Or, (5.) Suppose he hath done 
me a real and undeserved injury without my fault 
or provocation, yet does not my discontent ag- 
gravate it? Does it not appear greater to me 
than it does to any body else? or than it will 
to me after the present ferment is over? — ^And 
(lastly) after all, must I never forgive ? How 
shall I be able to repeat the Lord's Prayer, or 
read our Saviour's comment upon it (Matt. vi. 
14, 16.) with an unforgiving temper? Do I not 
hope to be forgiven ten thousand talents? and 
cannot I forgive mj fellow servant thirty pence ^ 
when I know not but he hath repented, and God 
hath forgiven him, whose forgiveness I want infi- 
nitely more than my greatest enemy does mine ^ ? 

' A man despises me : what then ? Did he know me more 
be wonld perhaps despise me more. But I know myself better 



54 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

Such considerations are of great use to soften 
our prejudices against persons ; and at once to 
discover the true spring, and prevent the bad 
effects of them. And happy would it be for a 
Christian could he but call to mind and apply to 
his relief half the good things which that excel- 
lent heathen emperor and philosopher Marcus 
Antoninus could say upon this subject. Some of 
which I have, for the benefit of the English 
reader, extracted and thrown into the margin^. 

than he can know me ; and therefore despise myself more. 
And though his contempt in this instance may be groundless, 
yet in others it would be but too well founded. 1 will there- 
fore not only bear with, but forgive it. — Contemnendus est 
ipse contemptuSf saith Seneca. — But such retorted scorn is 
more becoming the character of a Stoic than a Christian. 

It has been reckoned a wise and witty answer which one of 
the philosophers returned to his friend, who advised him to 
revenge an injury that had been done him : " What (says he), 
if an ass kicks me, must I needs kick him again?" And 
perhaps there is more wit than wisdom in that reply. It seems 
indeed to carry in it something of a true greatness of mind ; 
but does it not at the same time discover a kind of haughty 
and contemptuous spirit ? The truth is (as a judicious writer 
observes upon it) — *' it is at best but a lame and misshapen 
charity ; it has more of pride than goodness. We should learn 
of the holy Jesus, who was not only meek, but lowly. We 
should contemn the injury, and pity the weakness, but should 
not disdain or despise the persons of our enemies. Charity 
vaunteth not herself t is not puffed up, doth not behave itself 
unseemly.'* See ScougaFs Duty of Loving our Enemies, 

^ " In the morning remember to say to thyself. This day, 
perhaps, I may meet with some impertinent, ung^tefol,- pee- 
vish, tricking, envious, churlish fellow. Now all these ill 
qualities in diem proceed from their ignorance of good and 
evil. And since I am so happy as to understand the natural 
beauty of a good action, and the deformity of an ill one ; and 
since the person that disobliges me is of near kin to me ; and 
though not just of the same blood and family, yet of the same 
divine extract as to his mind ; and finally, since I am con- 
vinced that no one can do me a real injury, because he cannot 



DOTH CONSIST. 55 

(3.) The mind is apt to be prejudiced against 
or in favour of certain things and actions as well 
as certain sentiments and persons. 

Do you not sometimes find dull disagreeable 
ideas annexed to certain places, seasons, or em- 
ployments, which give you a secret aversion to 
them? These arise from the remembrance of 
some unpleasing incidents you have heretofore 
met with, and which you apprehend may again 
befall you on such occasions. But they are often 



force me to do a dishonest thing ; for these reasons I cannot 
find in my heart to hate him, or so mnch as to be angry with 
him." Mare, Anton, Medit. b. ii. § 1. 

" Yon are jast taking leave of the world ; and have yon not 
yet learned to be friends with every body ? And that to be an 
honest man is the only way to be a wise one." B. iv. § 37. 

" To expect an impossibility is madness ; now it is impos- 
sible for ill men not to do ill tilings." Id, b. y, § 17. 

** It is the privilege of human natare above brutes to love 
those that offend us ; in order to this, consider (1.) That the 
offending party is of kin to you ; (2.) and acts thus, because 
he knows no better ; (3.) he may have no design to offend 
yon ; (4.) yon will both of you quickly be in your graves ; 
bat, above all, (5.) you have received no harm from him, for 
your mind or reason is the same it was before." B. vii. § 22. 

'* Think upon your last hour, and do not trouble yourself 
about other people's faults, but leave them there where they 
must be answered for." Id, b. vii. § 29. 

'* Do not return the temper of ill natured people upon 
themselves, nor treat them as they do the rest of mankind." 
Id, b. vii. § 55. 

** Though the gods are immortal, yet they not only pa- 
tiently bear with a wicked world through so many ages ; but, 
what is more, liberally provide for it ; and are you, who are 
just going off the stage, weary with bearing, though you are 
one of those unhappy mortals yourself?" Jd, b. vii, § 70. 

** Never disturb yourself; for men will do the same on- 
toward actions over again, though you burst with spleen." 
Jd,h.ym,§ 4, 

" Reform an injurious person if you can ; if not, remember 



66 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

nothing more than the mere misrepresentations 
of fancy ; and ought to be repelled, because they 
will be apt to lead you to neglect the duties of 
your character. 

If therefore you find in yourself a secret disin- 
clination to any particular action or duty, and tiie 
mind begins to cast about for excuses and reasons 
to justify the neglect of it, — consider the matter 
•well: go to the bottom of that reluctance; and 
search out what it is that gives the mind this 



your patience was given yon to bear with him ; that the gods 
patiently bear with such men, and sometimes bestow upon 
them health, and fame, and fortnne." Id. b. ix. § 11. 

"When people treat you ill, and show their spite> and 
slander yon, enter into their little sonis, go to the bottom of 
them, search their understandings ; and you will soon see 
that nothing they may think or say of yon need give you one 
troublesome thought." Id. b. ix. § 27. 

" That is the best thing for a man which God sends him ; 
and that is the best time when he sends it." B. x. § 2. 

" It is sometimes a hard matter to be certain whether yoa 
have received ill usage or not ; for men's actions oftentimes 
look worse than they are, and one must be thoroughly in- 
formed of a great many things before he can rightly judge." 
Id, b. xi. § 18. 

" Consider how much more you often suffer from your 
anger and grief, than I&019 those very things fdr which you are 
angry and grieved." Id, b. xi. § 18. 

" When you fancy that any one hath transgressed, say thus 
to yourself: ' How do I know it is a fault? But admit it is^ 
it may be his conscience hath corrected him: and then he 
hath received his punishment from himself.' " Book xii. 

To these I shall add two more quotations out of the sacred 
writings, of incomparably greater weight and dignity than any 
of the aforementioned. Prov. xix. 11. The discretion of a 
man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a 
transgression. Rom. xii. 20, 21. // thine enemy hu$tger, 
feed him; if he thirsty give him drink; for in so doing thorn 
shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evit, 
but overcome evil with good. 



BOTH CONSIST. 67 

aversion to it. Whether it be the thing or action 
itself, or some discouraging circumstances that 
may attend it; or some disagreeable consequences 
that may possibly flow from it; or your supposed 
unfitness for it at present. Why, all these things 
may be only imaginary. And to neglect a plain 
and positive duty upon such considerations, shows 
that you are governed by appearances more than 
realities, by fancy more than reason, and by in- 
clination more than conscience. 

But let fancy muster up all the discouraging 
circumstances, and set them in the most formi- 
dable light, to bar your way to a supposed duty ; 
for instance, ' It is very difficult, I want capa- 
city ; at least am so indisposed to it at present, 
that I shall make nothing of it ; and then it will 
be attended with danger to my person, reputa- 
tion, or peace; and the opposition I am like to 
meet with is great, &c.' But after all, is the call 
of Providence clear ? is the thing a plain duty ; 
such as reason, conscience, and scripture, your 
office, character, or personal engagements call 
upon you to discharge ? If so, all the aforesaid 
objections are vain and delusive ; and you have 
nothing to do but to summon your courage, and 
in dependence on divine help, to set about the 
business immediately and in good earnest, and 
in the best and wisest manner you can ; and you 
may depend upon.it, you will find the greatest 
difficulty to lie only in the first attempt; these 
frightful appearances 4x) be all visionary, the mere 
figments of fancy, turning lambs into lions, and 
molehills into mountains ; — and that nothing but 
sloth, folly, and self-indulgence thus set your 

d3 



58 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

imagination on work to deter you from a plain 
duty. Your heart would deceive, but you have 
found out the cheat; and do not be imposed 
upon^ 

Again, suppose the thing done ; consider how 
it will look then. Take a view of it as past ; and 
whatever pains it may cost you, think whether it 
will not be abundantly recompensed by the in- 
ward peace and pleasure which arise from a con- 
sciousness of having acted right. It certainly 
will. And the difficulties you now dread will 
enhance your future satisfaction^. But think 
again how you will bear the reflections of your 
own mind if you wilfully neglect a plain and ne- 
cessary duty ; whether this will not occasion you 
much more trouble than all the pains you might 
be at in performing it. And a wise man will 
always determine himself by the end ; or by such 
a retrospective view of things considered as past 

Again, on the other hand, if you find a strong 
propension to any particular action, examine that 
with the like impartiality. Perhaps it is what 
neither your reason nor conscience can fully ap- 
prove. And yet every motive to it is strongly 
urged, and every objeption against it slighted. 
Sense and appetite grow importunate and cla- 
morous, and want to lead, while reason remon* 
strates in' vain. But turn not aside from that 
faithful and friendly monitor, whilst with a low, 

^ The wise and pmdent conqaer difficulties 
By daring to attempt them. Sloth and folly 
Shiver and shrink at sight of toil and danger. 
And make the' impossibility they fear. Rome, 

^ forsan et haec olim meminisse jurabit ^ 

Virg. 



BOTH CONSIST. 69 

still Toice, she addresses you in this soft but 
earnest language : — ' Hear me, I beseech you, 
but this one word more. The action is indeed 
out of character; what I shall never approve. 
The pleasure of it is a great deal overrated ; you 
will certainly be disappointed. It is a false ap- 
peanmce that now deceives you. And what will 
you think of yotirself when it is past, and you 
come to reflect seriously on the matter. Believe 
it, you will then wish you had taken me for your 
counsellor, instead of those enemies of mine, 
your lusts and passions, which have so often 
misled you, though you know I never did.' 

Such short recollections as these, and a Uttle 
leisure to take a view of the nature and conse- 
quences of things or actions, before we reject or 
approve them, will prevent much false judgment 
and bad conduct; and by degrees wear off the 
prejudices which fancy has affixed in the mind 
either for or against any particular action ; teach 
OS to distinguish between things and their ap- 
pearances ; strip them of those false colours that 
so often deceive us; correct the sallies of the 
imagination, and leave the reins in the hand of 
reason. 

Before I dismiss this head, I must observe 
that some of our strongest prejudices arise from 
an excessive self-esteem, or too great a compla- 
cency in our own good sense and understanding. 
Philautus in every thing shows himself well sa- \ 
tisfied with his own wisdom : which makes him 
very impatient of contradiction, and gives him a 
distaste to all who shall presume to oppose their 
judgment to his in any thing. He had rather 
persevere in a mistake than retract it, lest his 



00 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

judgment should suffer ; not considering that his 
ingenuity and good sense suffer much more by 
such obstinacy. The fi^hiess of his self-sufii^ 
ciency makes him blmd to those imperfections 
which every one can see in him but himself. So 
that, however wise, sincere, and friendly, however 
gentle and seasonable your remonstrance may be, 
he takes it immediately to proceed from ill nature 
or ignorance in you, but from no fault in him. 
V \ Seneca , I remember, tells us a remarkable 
story, which very well illustrates this matter. — 
Writing to his friend LuciUus, *My wife' (says 
he) ' keeps Harpastes in her house still, who; you 
know, is a sort of family fool, and no small in- 
cumbrance upon us. For my part, I am far from 
taking any pleasure in such prodigies. If I have 
a mind to divert myself with a fool, I have not 
far to go for one ; I can laugh at myself. This 
silly girl, all on a sudden, lost her eyesight; and 
(which perhaps may seem incredible, but it is 
very true) she does not know she is blind; but 
is every now and then desiring her governess to 
lead her abroad, saying the house is dark. — Now 
what we laugh at in this poor creature, you may 
observe happens to us all. No man knows that 
he is covetous or insatiable. Yet with this dif- 
ference ; the blind seek somebody to lead them, 
but we are content to wander without a guide. 
— But why do we thus deceive ourselves ? The 
disease is not without us, but fixed deep within. 
And therefore is the cure so difficult, because we 
do not know that we are sick^.' 

7 Sen. Epist. li. 







DOTH CONSIST. 61 



CHAP. X. 

THE NECESSITY AND MEANS OF KNOWING OUR NATURAL 

TEMPER. 

9. Another very important branch of self- 
knowledge is the l^ nowledge of those governing 
passions or dispositions of the mind which gene- 
rally form what we call a man's natural temper * 

The difference of natural tempers seems to be 
chiefly owing to the different degrees of influence 
the several passions have upon the mind ; e. g. 
If the passions are eager and soon raised, we say 
the man is of a warm temper : if more sluggish 
and slowly raised, he is of a cool temper: ac- 
cording as anger, malice, or ambition prevail, he 
is of a fierce, churlish, or haughty temper ; the 
influence of the softer passions of love, pity, and 
benevolence forms a sweet, sympathising, and 
courteous temper ; and when all the passions are 
duly poised, and the milder and pleasing ones 
prevail, they make what is commonly called a 
quiet, goodnatured man. 

80 that it is the prevalence or predominance 
of any particular passion which gives the turn or 
tincture to a man's temper, by which he is dis^ 
tinguished, and for which he is loved or esteemed, 
or shunned and despised by others. 

Now what this is, those we converse with are 
soon sensible of. They presently see the fault of 
our temper, and order their behaviour accord- 
ingly. If they are wise and well mannered, they 
will avoid striking the string which they know 
will jar and raise a discord within us. If they 



1 



62 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

are our enemies, they will do it on purpose to 
set us on tormenting ourselves. And our friends 
we must suffer sometimes with a gentle hand to 
touch it, either by way of pleasant raillery or 
faithful advice. 

But a man must be greatly imacquainted with 
himself if he is ignorant of his predominant pas- 
sion or distinguishing temper, when every one 
else observes it. And yet how conunon is this 
piece of self-ignorance ! The two apostles Peter 
and John discovered it in that Very action 
wherein they meant to express nothing but a 
hearty zeal for their Master's honour; which 
made him tell them, that they knew not what 
manner of spirit they were of, Luke ix. 5; that 
is, instead of a principle of love and genuine zeal 
for him, they were at that time governed by a 
spirit of pride, revenge, and cruelty, and yet 
Imew it not. And that the apostle John should 
be liable to this censure, whose temper seemed 
to be all love and sweetness, is a memorable in- 
stance how difficult a thing it is for a man at all 
times to know his own spirit ; and that that pas- 
sion, which seems to have the least power over 
his mind, may on some occasions insensibly gain 
a criminal ascendant there. 

The necessity of a perfect knowledge of our 
reigning passions appears further from hence; 
that they not only give a tincture to the temper, 
but to the understanding also; and throw a 
strong bias on the judgment. They have much 
Hie same effect upon the eye of the mind as some 
distempers have upon that of the body. If they 
do not put it oiit, they weaken it ; or throw false 



DOTH CONSIST. 63 

colours before it, and make it form a wrong judg- 
ment of things. And, in short, are the source of 
those forementioned prejudices which so often 
abuse the human understanding. 

Whatever the different passions themselves 
that reign in the mind may be owing to, whether 
to the different texture of the bodily organs, or 
the different quantity or motion of the animal 
spirits, or to the native turn and cast of the soul 
itself; yet certain it is that men's different ways 
of thinking are much according to the predomi- 
nance of their different passion^ ; and especially 
with regard to religion. Thus, e, g. we see me- 
lancholy people are apt to throw too much gloom 
upon their religion, and represent it in a very un- 
inviting and unlovely view, as all austerity and 
mortification: whilst they who are governed by 
the more gay and cheerful passions are apt to run 
into the other extreme, and too much to mingle 
the pleasures of sense with those of religion ; and 
are as much too lax as the other too severe. 
And thus by the prejudice or bias of their re- 
spective passions, or the force of their naturcd 
temper, they are led into different mistakes. 

So that would a man know himself, he must 
study his natural temper; his constitutional in- 
clinations and favourite passions ; for by these a 
man's judgment is easily perverted, and a wrong 
bias hung upon his mind : These are the inlets of 
prejudice; the unguarded avenues of the mind, 
by which a thousand errors and secret faults find 
sidmission, without being observed or taken no- 
tice of ^. 

' SpectaL toI. yi. No. 889. 



64 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

And that we may more easily come at the 
knowledge of our predominant affections, let us 
consider what outward events do most impress 
and move us, and in what manner. What is it 
that usually creates the greatest pain or pleasure 
in the mind ? — As for pain ; a stoic indeed may 
tell us, ' that we must keep things at a distance : 
let nothing that is outward come within us; let 
externals be external still.' But the human make 
will scarce bear the rigour of that philosophy. 
Outward things, after all, will impress and affect 
us : and there is no harm in this, provided they 
do not get the possession of us, overset our rea- 
son, or lead us to act unbecoming a man or a 
Christian. And one advantage we may reap from 
hence is, the manner or degree in which outward 
things impress us, may lead us into a better ac- 
quaintance with ourselves, discover to us our 
weak side, and the passions which most predomi- 
nate in us. 

Our pleasures will likewise discover our reign- 
ing passions, and the ti*ue temper and disposition 
of the soul. If it be captivated by the pleasures 
of sin, it is a sign its prevailing taste is very 
vicious and corrupt; if with the pleasures of 
sense, very low and sordid; if imaginary plea- 
sures, and the painted scenes of fancy and ro- 
mance do most entertain it, the soul hath then a 
trifling turn ; if the pleasures of science or intel- 
lectual improvement are those it is most fond 
of, it has then a noble and refined taste ; but if 
its chief satisfactions derive from religion and 
divine contemplation, it has then its true and 
proper taste ; its temper is as it should be, pure, 



DOTH CONSIST. 65 

divine, and heavenly; provided these satisfac- 
tions spring from a true religious principle, free 
from that superstition, bigotry, and entiliusiasm 
under which it is often disguised. 

And thus by carefully observing what it is that 
gives the mind the greatest pain and torment, or 
ihe greatest pleasure and entertainment, we come 
at. the knowledge of its reigning passions, and 
prevailing temper and disposition. 

' Include thyself then, O my soul, within the 
compass of thine own heart; if it be not large, 
it is deep; and thou wilt there find exercise 
enough. Thou wilt never be able to sound it; 
it cannot be known but by Him who tries the 
thoughts and reins. But dive into this subject 
as deep as thou canst. Examine thyself; and 
this knowledge of that which passes within thee 
will be of more use to thee than the knowledge 
of all that passes in the world. Concern not 
thyself with the wars and quarrels of pubhc or 
private persons ; take cognizance of those con- 
tests which are between thy flesh and thy spirit; 
betwixt the law of thy members and that of 
thy understanding. Appease those differences. 
Teach thy flesh to be in subjection. Replace 
reason on its throne; and give it piety for its 
counsellor. Tame thy passions, and bring them 
under bondage. Put thy little state in good 
order ; govern wisely and holily those numerous 
people which are contained in so little a king* 
dom; that' is to say, that multitude of affections, 
thoughts, opinions, and passions which are in 
thine heart ^. 

' Jurieu'a Method of Ckristiau Devotion, Part iii. ch. iii. 



66 \VH£R£IN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

CHAP.. XI. 

CONCERNING THE SECRET SPRINGS OF OUR ACIIONS. 

10. Another considerable branch of self-ac- 



quaintance is to know the true motives and secret 
springs of our actions . 

Tkis will sometimes cost us much pains to ac- 
quire. But for want of it we shall be in danger 
of passing a false judgment upon our actions, and 
of entertaining a wrong opinion of our conduct. 

It is not only very possible, but very conunon 
for men to be ignorant of the chief inducements 
of their behaviour ; and to imagine they act from 
one motive, whilst they are apparently governed 
by another. If we examine our views, and look 
into our hearts narrowly, we shall find that they 
more frequently deceive us in this respect than 
we are aware of ; by persuading us that we are 
governed by much better motives than we really 
are. The honour of God and the interest of re- 
ligion may be the open and avowed motive; 
whilst secular interest and secret vanity niay be 
the hidden and true one. While we think we 
are serving God, we may be only sacrificing to 
Mammon. We may, like Jehu, boast our zeal 
for the Lard, when we are only animated by the 
heat of our natural passions ^ ; may cover a cen- 
sorious spirit under a cloak of piety; and giving 
admonition to others, may be only giving vent to 
our spleen. 

Many come to the place of public worship, out 
of custom or curiosity, who would be thought 

1 2 Kings X. 16. 



DOTH CONSIST. 6? 

to come thither only out of conscience. And 
whilst their external and professed view is to 
serve God, and gain good to their souls, their 
secret and inward motive is only to show them- 
selves to advantage, or to avoid singularity, and 
prevent others making observations on their ab- 
sence. Munificence and almsgiving may often 
proceed from a principle of pride and party 
spirit; and seeming acts of friendship from a 
mercenary motive. 

By thus disguising our motives we may im- 
pose upon men; but at the same time we im- 
pose upon ourselves : and whilst we are deceiving 
others, our own hearts deceive us; and of all 
impostures self-deception is the most dangerous, 
because least suspected. 

Now, unless we examine this point narrowly, 
we shall never come to the bottom of it; and un- 
less we come at the true spring and real motive 
of our actions, we shall never be able to form a 
right judgment of them; and they may appear 
very different in our own eye, and in the eye of 
the world, from what they do in the eye of God. 
For the Lord seeth not as man seeth : for man 
looketh on the outward appearance ; hut the Lord 
looketh on the heart^. And hence it is that that 
which is highly esteemed among men is often- 
times abomination in the sight of God^, Every 
way of man is right in his own eyes; but the 
Lord pondereth the hearts^, . 

* 1 Sam. xvi. 7. ^ Luke xvi. 16. * Prov. xxi. 2. 



68 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 



CHAP. XII. 

EVERY ONE THAT -KNOWS HIMSELF IS IN A PARTICULAR 
MANNER SENSIBLE HOW FAR HE IS GOVERNED BY A 
THIRST FOR APPLAUSE. 

11. Another thing necessary to unfold a man's 
heart to himself is, t o consider what is his app e- 
tite fny fepi<>; and by what means ne seeks to 
gratify it. 

This passion in particular having always so 
main a stroke, and oftentimes so unsuspected an 
influence on the most important parts of our con- 
duct, a perfect acquaintance with it is a very 
material branch of self-knowledge, and therefore 
requires a distinct consideration. 

Emulation, like the other passions of the hu- 
man mind, shows itself much more plainly, and 
works much more strongly in some than it does 
in others. It is in itself innocent; and was 
planted in our natures for very wise ends, and, 
if kept under proper regulations, is capable of 
serving very excellent purposes, otherwise it de- 
generates into a mean and criminal ambition. 

When a man finds something within him that 
pushes him on to excel in worthy deeds, or in ac- 
tions truly good and virtuous, and pursues that 
design with a steady unaffected ardour, without 
reserve or falsehood, it is a true sign of a noble 
spirit; for that love of praise can never be cri- 
minal, that excites and enables a man to do a 
great deal more good than he could do without 
it; And perhaps there never was a fine genius, 
or a noble spirit, that rose above the common 
level, and distinguished itself by high attainments 



DOTH CONSIST. 69 

in what is truly excellent, but was secretly, and 
perhaps insensibly, prompted by the impulse of 
this passion. 

But, on the contrary, if a maCh's views centre 
only in the applause of others, whether it be de- 
served or not ; if he pants after popularity and 
fame, not regarding how he comes by it ; if his 
passion for praise urge him to stretch himself be- 
yond the line of his capacity, and to attempt 
tilings to which he is unequal; to condescend to 
mean arts and low dissimulation for the sake of 
a name ; and in a sinister, indirect way, sue hard 
for a little incense, not caring from whom he re- 
ceives it: his ambition then becomes vanity. 
And if it excite a man to wicked attempts, make 
him willing to sacrifice the esteem of all wise and 
good men to the acclamations of a mob ; to over- 
leap the bounds of decency and truth, and break 
through the obhgations of honour and virtue, it is 
then not only vanity, but vice ; a vice the most 
destructive to the peace and happiness of human 
society, and which of all others hath made the 
greatest havoc and devastation among men. 

What an instance have we here of the wide 
difference between common opinion and truth! 
That a vice so big with mischief and misery 
should be mistaken for a virtue ! And that they 
who have been most infamous for it should be 
crowned with laurels, even by those who have 
been mined by it ; and have those laurels perpe- 
tuated by the common consent of men through 
after-ages! Seneca's Judgment of Alexande r is 
certainly more agreeable to truth than the com- 
mon opinion; who called him, '* a public cut- 
throat rather than a hero ; and who> in seeking f 



/ 




70 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

only to be a terror to mankiDd, arose to no greater 
an excellence than what belonged to the most 
hurtful and hateful animals on earth ^." 

Certain it is liiat these false heroes who seek , 
their glory from the destruction of their own 
species, are of all men most ignorant of them- 
selves; and by this wicked ambition entail in- 
famy and curses upon their name, instead of that 
immortal glory they pursued. According to the 
prophet's words. Woe to him who coveteth an 
evil covetousness to his house, that he may set 
his nest on high ; that he may be delivered from 
the power of evil. Thou hast consulted shame 
to thine house, by cutting off many people; and 
hast sinned against thy soul^. 

1 Quid enim simile babebat vesanus adolesceos, cai pro 
▼irtate erat felix temeiitas? — Hie a pneritiA latro , gentiqmqae 
Tastator, tarn hoatium pemicies quam amicornin. Qui sum- 
mum bonnm duceret terrori esse cnnctis mortalibns : oblitns 
non ferocissima tanttlm, sed ignavissima qnoqae animalia, ti< 
meri ob yims malum. Sen, de Bene/, cap. 13. 

^?Tf '^jflferf "* from ibis Ts *lff j"'^ffTnyr/ "f Pln<ay«>>» in this 
matter ! who, in his Oration concerning the^orluneakd virtue 
of Alexander, exalts him into a true hero , and justifies all the 
waste he made of mankind, under (the same colour with which 
the Spaniards excused their inhuman barbarities towards the 
poor Indians, viz.) a pretence of civilizing them. And in at- 
tributing all his success to his virtue, he talks more like a 
soldier serving under him in his wars, than an historian who 
lived many years afterwards, whose business it was to trans- 
mit his character impartiaUj to future ages. And in whatever 
other respects Mr. Dryde n maj ^ve t he preference to Plu- 
tarch befqre_Senec a (^wJiich lie aoes wim ISihch zeal in his' 
ll^reface lo Plutarch's Lives), yet it must be allowed that, in 
this instance at least*, the latter shows more of the philosopher. 
See Plut, Mor. vol. i. ad fin, 

3 Hab. ii, 9. 10 — that gaineth a micked gain. 

Oh sons of earth ! attempt ye still to rise. 
By mountains piled on mountains to the skies? 



DOTH CONSIST. 71 

Kow no man can truly know himself till he be 
acquainted with this, wluch is so often the secret 
and unperceiyed spring of his actions, and ob- 
serres how far it governs him in his conversation 
and conduct; virtue and real excellence will rise 
to view, though they be not mounted on the wings 
of ambition ; which, by soaring too high, procures 
but a more fatal fall. 

And to correct the irregularity and extrava- 
gance of this passion, let us but reflect how airy 
and unsubstantial a pleasure the highest gratifica- 
tions of it afford ; how many cruel mortifications 
it exposes us to, by awakening the envy of others ; 
to what meanness it often makes us submit ; how 
frequently it loseth its end by pursuing it with 
too much ardour; and how much more solid 
pleasure the approbation of conscience will yield 
than the acclamations of ignorant and mistaken 
men, who, judging by externals only, cannot know 
our true character ; and whose commendations a 
wise man would rather despise than court. ^ Ex- 
amine but the size of people's sense, and the con- 
dition of their understanding, and you will never 
be fond of popularity, nor afi^aid of censure ; nor 
solicitous what judgment they may form of you, 
who know not how to judge rightly of them- 
selves*.' 

Heayen still with laughter the yain toil surveys, 
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise. 
Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave, 
Is but the more a fool, or more a knave. 

Pope's Essay on Man. 

® AteXd^c €(Tio etg ra riyefiovuca a^rov, Kai oypei rivag jcpi- 
TOQ ^^ti oisg KM TTfpi avTiov ovTag Kpirag. Marc, Ant. 
-ib. ix. sec 18. 



72 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLBDOfi 



CHAP. XIII. 

WHAT KIND OF KNOWLEDGE WE ARE ALREADY FURNISH 
WITH, AND WHAT DEGREE OF ESTEEM WE SET UPON IT 

12. A MAN can never rightly know himself, u 
less he examines into his knowlei 
things. 

We must consider then the knowledge ^ 



have ; and whether we do not set too high 
price upon it, and too great a value upon ou 
selves on its account; of what real use it is < 
and what effect it has upon us : whether it do 
not make us too stiff, unsociable, and assuminj 
testy and supercilious, and ready to despise othc 
for their supposed ignorance. If so, our knoi 
ledge, be it what it will, does us more harm th) 
good. We were better without it ; ignorance i 
self would not render us so ridiculous. Such 
temper, with all our knowledge, shows that v 
know not ourselves. 

' A man is certainly proud of that knowledi 
he despises others for the want of.' 

ETbw common is it for some men to be fond < 
appearing to know more than they do, and < 
seeming to be thought men of knowledge! 1 
which end they exhaust their fund almost in a 
companies, to outshine the rest. So that in tw 
or three conversations they are drawn dry, an 
you see to the bottom of them much sooner tha 
you could at first imagine. And even that toi 
rent of learning, which they pour out upon yc 
at first so unmercifully, rather confounds tilia 
satisfies you ; their visible aim is not to infori 



DOTH CONSIST. 73 

your judgment, but display their own ; you have 
many things to query and except against; but 
their loquacity giyes you no room; and their 
good sense, set off to so much advaiftage, strikes 
a modest man dumb. If you insist upon your 
right to examine, they retreat, either in confusion 
.'or equivocation ; and, like the scuttle-fish, throw 
a large quantity of ink behind them, that you 
may not see where to pursue. Whence this 
foible flows is obvious enough. Self-knowledge 
would soon correct it. 

Bu t as some iamo|rantlY affect to be more know^ 
jng , so~dQiers vainly attect to be more 'ignorant 
Tfian tbev ar e: who, to show thev have greater 
insight and penetration than other men, insist 
upon the absolute uncertainty of science; will 
dispute even first principles; grant nothing as 
certain, and so run into downright pyrrhonism; 
the too common effect of abstracted debates ex- 
cessively refined ^. 

Every one is apt to set the greatest value upon 
that kind of knowledge in which he imagines he 
himself most excels ; and to undervalue all other 
in comparison of it. There wants some certain 
rule then, by which every man*s knowledge is to 
be tried, and the value of it estimated. And let 

jocrate&.* 8 saying, Nihil se scire, nisi id ipsam, sayonred 
of an ftBected hnmilitj. But they tbat followed went further ; ! 
and particularly Arcesilaus, Negabat esse quicquam, quod sciri 
potest ; ne illud ijuidi^m ipsum quod Socrates sibi reliqnisset. 
And thus the absurdity grew to a size that was monstrous. 
For to know that one knows nothingy is a contradiction. And 
not to know that he knows even thatf is not to know but that he 
vuty know something* Relig* of Nat, delin, p. 40« 

£ 






i 



74 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

it be this. — *' That is the best and most yaluable 
kind of knowledge, that is most subservient to the 
best ends ; i. e. which tends to make a man wiser 
and better, or more agreeable and useful both to 
himself and others.'^— For knowledge is but a 
means that relates to some end. And as all 
means are to be judged of by the exceUency of 
the end, and their expediency to produce it; so 
that must be the best knowledge that hath the 
directest tendency to promote the best ends ; viz. 
a man's own true. happiness, and that of others; 
in which the glory of God, the ultimate end, is 
ever necessarily comprised. 

Now, if we were to judge of the several kinds 
of science by this rule, we should find, (1.) Some 
of them to be very hurtful and pernicious; as 
tending to pervert the true end of knowledge ; to 
ruin a man's own happiness, and make him more 
injurious to society. Such is the knowledge of 
vice, the various temptations to it, and the secret 
ways of practising it, especially the arts of dissi- 
mulation, fraud, and dishonesty. (2.) Others will 
be found unprofitable and useless. As those 
parts of knowledge, which though they may take 
H^up much time and pains to acquire, yet answer 
no valuable purpose ; and serve only for amuse^ 
ment, and the entertainment of the imagination. 
For instance, an acquaintance with plays, novels, 
games, and modes, in which a man may be very 
critical and expert, and yet not a whit the wiser 
or more useful man. (3.) Other kinds of know- 
ledge are good only relatively, or conditionally, 
and may be more useful to one than to another; 



DOTH CONSIST. 75 

viz. a skill in a man's particular occupation or 
calling, on which his credit, livelihood, or useful- 
ness in the world depends. And as this kind of 
knowledge is valuable in proportion to its ends, 
80 it ought to be cultivated with a diligence and 
esteem answerable to that. (Lastly), Other kinds 
of knowledge are good absolutely and univer- 
sally ; viz. the knowledge of God and ourselves ; 
the nature of our final happiness, and the way to 
it. This is equally necessary to all. And how 
thankful should we be, that we who live under the 
light of the gospel, and enjoy that light in its per- 
fection and purity, have so many happy means 
and opportunities of attaining this most useful 
and necessary kind of knpwiedge ! 

A man can never understand himself then, till 
he makes a right estimate of his knowledge ; till 
he examines what kind of knowledge he values 
himself most upon, and most diligently cultivates; 
how high a value he sets upon it; what good it 
does him ; what effect it hath upon him ; what 
he is the better for it ; what end it answers now ; 
ot what it is like to answer hereafter. 

There is nothing in which a man's self-igno- 
rance discovers itself more than in the esteem he 
hath for his understanding, or for himself on the 
account of it. It is a trite and a true observation, 
* that empty things make the most sound.' Men 
of the least knowledge are most apt to make a 
show of. it, and to value themselves upon it; 
which is very visible in forward confident youth, 
raw conceited academics, and those who, unedu- 
osted in their childhood, betake themselves in 

e2 



76 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

later life to reading, without taste or judgment, 
only as an accomplishment, and to make a show 
of scholarship ; who haye just learning enough to 
spoil company, and render themselves ridiculous ; 
but not enough to make either themselves or 
others at all the wiser. 

But beside the forementioned kinds of know- 
ledge, there is another, which is conmionly called 
false knowledge ; which, though it often imposes 
upon men, under the show and semblance of true 
knowledge, is really worse than ignorance. Some 
men have learned a great many things, and have 
taken a great deal of pains to learn them, anc 
stand very high in their own opinion on accouni 
of them, which yet they must unlearn before the^ 
are truly wise. They have been at a vast ex- 
pense of time, and pains, and patience, to heiq 
together, and to confirm themselves in a set oi 
wrong notions, which they lay up in their mindt 
as a fund of valuable knowledge ; which, if they 
try by the forementioned rules, viz. " The ten- 
dency they have to make them wiser and better, 
or more useful and beneficial to others," will be 
found to be worth just nothing at all. 

Beware of this false knowledge. For as there 
is nothing of which men are more obstinately te- 
nacious, so there is nothing that renders them 
more vain, or more averse to self-knowledge. 

\ Of all things, men are most fond of their wrong 

! notions. 

I The apostle Paul often speaks of these men 
I and their self-sufficiency, in very poignant terms 
} who, though they seem wise, yet (says he) musi 



DOTH CONSIST. 77 

become fools before they are wise^. Though they 
think they know a great deal, know nothing yet 
ag they ought to know ' ; but deceive thenuelves, 
by thinking themselves something when they are 
nothing \ And whilst they desire to be teachers 
of others, understand not what they say, nor 
whereof they affirm^ ; and want themselves to 
be taught what are the first rudiments and prin- 
ciples of wisdom^. 




CHAP. XIV. 

CONCERNING THE KNOWLEDGE, GUARD, AND GOVERNMENT 

OF OUR THOUGHTS. 

13. Another part of self-knowledge consists 
in a due acquaintance with our own thought s, and, 
the inward workings of the imagination. 

l^he rignt government of tKe thoughts requires 
no small art, vigilance, and resolution. But it is 
a matter of such vast importance to the peace 
and improvement of the mind, that it is worth 
while to be at some pains about it. A man that 
hath so numerous and turbulent a family to go- 
vern as his own thoughts, which are too apt to 
be at the command of his passions and appetites, 
ought not to be long from home. If he be, they 
will soon grow mutinous and disorderly under 
the conduct of those two headstrong guides, and 
raise great clamours and disturbances, and some- 
jdmes on the slightest occasions. And a more 
dreadful scene of misery can hardly be imagined 

« 1 Cor. ui, 18. « 1 Cor. yiii. 2. * Gal. vi. S. 

« 1 Tim. i. 7. « Heb. y. 12. 



i 



78 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

than that which is occasioned by such a tumult 
and uproar within, when a raging conscience or 
inflamed passions are let loose, without check 
or control. A city in flames, or the mutiny of a 
drunken crew aboard, who have murdered the 
captain, and are butchering one another, are but 
faint emblems of it. The torment of the mind, 
under such an insurrection and ravage of the pas- 
sions, is not easy to be conceived. The most re- 
vengeful man cannot wish his enemy a greater. 

Of what vast importance then is it for a man 
to watch over his thoughts, in order to a right 
government of them! to consider what kind of 
thoughts find the easiest admission ; in what man- 
ner they insinuate themselves, and upon what oc- 
casions. 

It was an excellent rule which a wise heathen 
prescribed to himself, in his private meditations : 
Manage (saith he) all your actions and thoughts 
in such a manner, as if you were just going out 
of the world ^. Again (saith he) A man is seldom, 
if ever, unhappy for not knowing the thoughts 
of others; hut he that does not attend to the mo^ 
tions of his own, is certainly miserable^. 

* Marc, Anton. Medit. lib. il. $ 11. 

' - ^^ty* Anto n, lib. ii. § 8. 

" NotLiiig can be more unhappy than that man who ranges 
everywhere, ransacks every thing, digs itito the bowels of the 
earth, dives into other men^s bosoms, but does not consider 
all the while that his own mind will afford him safficient scope 
for inquiry and entertainment; and that the care and im- 
provement of himself will give him business enough." Id. 
lib. ii. § 13. 

" Your disposition will be suitable to that which yon most 
frequently think on ; for the soul is, as it were, tinged with the 
colour and complexion of its own thoughts." Id. lib. v. § 16. 



DOTH CONSIST. 70 

It may be worth our while then to discuss 
this matter a little more precisely, and consider 
(1.) what kind of thoughts are to be excluded or 
rejected ; and (2.) what ought to be indulged and 
entertained. 

1. Some thoughts ought to be immediately ba- 
nished as soon as they have found entrance. — 
And if we are often troubled with them, the 
safest way will be to keep a good guard on the 
avenues of the n^d by which they enter, and 
avoid those occasions which commonly excite 
them. For sometimes it is much easier to pre- 
vent a bad thought entering the mind, than to get 
rid of it when it is entered. — More particularly, 

(1.) Watch against all fretful and discontented 
thoughts, which do but chafe and corrode the 
mind to no purpose. To harbour these is to do 
yourself more injury than it is in the power of 
your greatest enemy to do you. It is equally a 
Christian's interest and duty to learn y in whatever 
state he is, therewith to be content^. 

(2.) Harbour not too anxious and apprehensive 
thoughts. By giving way to tormenting fears, 
suspicions of some approaching danger or trouble- 
some event, we not only anticipate, but double 
the evil we fear; and undergo much more from 
the apprehension of it before it comes, than from 
the whole weight of it when present This is a 
great, but common weakness ; which a man should 
endeavour to arm himself against by such kind of 
reflections as these : — ** Are not all these events 
under the certain direction of a wise Providence ? 
If they befall me, they are then that share of suf- 

3 Phil. iv. 11. 



80 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

fering which God hath appointed me ; and which 
he expects I should bear as a Christian. How 
often hath my too timorous heart magnified former 
trials ! which I found to be less in reality than 
they appeared upon their approach. And per- 
haps the formidiable aspect they put on is only a 
stratagem of the great enemy of my best interest, 
designed on purpose to divert me from some point 
of duty, or to draw me into some sin, to ayoid 
them. However, why should I torment myself 
to no purpose ? The pain and affliction the dreaded 
evil will give me when it comes, is of God's send- 
ing : the pain I feel in the apprehension of it be- 
fore it comes, is of my own procuring. Whereby 
I often make my sufferings more than double; 
for this overplus of them, which I bring upon my- 
self, is often greater than that measure of them 
which the hand of Providence immediately brings 
upon me." 

(3.) Dismiss, as soon as may be, all angry and 
wrathful thoughts. These will but canker and 
corrode the mind, and dispose it to the worst 
temper in the world, viz. that of fixed malice and 
revenge. Anger may steal into the heart of a 
wise man ; but it rests only in the bosom offools\ 
Make all the most candid allowances for the of- 
fender. Consider his natural temper. Turn your 
anger into pity. Repeat 1 Cor. xiii. Think of 
the patience and meekness of Christ, and the pe- 
tition of the Lord's Prayer; and how much you 
stand in need of forgiveness yourself, both from 
God and man ; how fruitless, how foolish is in- 
dulged resentment; how tormenting to yourself. 

* Eccles. yiu 9, 



DOTH CONSIST. 81 

You have too much good-nature willingly to give 
others so much torment; and why should you 
give it yourself? You are commanded to love 
your neighbour as yourself; but not forbidden to 
love yourself as much. And why should you do 
yourself that injury, which your enemy would be 
glad to do you ^? 

But, above all, be sure to set a guard on the 
tongue, whilst the fretful mood is upon you. The 
least spark may break out into a conflagration, 
when cherished by a resentful heart, and fanned 
by the wind of L angiy breadi. Aggravating 
expressions at such a time are like oil thrown 
upon flames, which always makes them rage the 
more^. Especially, 

(4.) Banish all malignant and revengeful 
thoughts. A spirit of revenge is the very spirit 
of the Devil; than which nothing makes a man 
more like him ; and nothing can be more oppo- 
site to the temper which Christianity was designed 
to promote. If your revenge be not satisfied, it 
will give you torment now; if it be, it will give . 
you greater hereafter. None is a greater self- 
tormentor than a malicious and revengeful man, 

* The Christian precept in this case is, Let not the sun go 
down upon your wrath, £ph. iv. 26. And this precept, Plu- 
tarch tells OS, the Pythagoreans practised in a literal sense ;— 
" who, if at any time in a passion they broke oat into oppro- 
brions language, before sunset gave one another their hands, 
and with them a discharge from all injuries ; and so witii a mu- 
tnal reconciliation parted friends." Plut, Mor, 

* AycL^ov {liv i^i tv irvpsTbtf St iv opyil TUfv ykiarrav 
airaXriv cxetv Kai Xcmv. Plutarch de Ira CohU>en, — ' It is 
good in a fever, much better in anger, to have the tongue k^t 
clean and smooth.' 

£3 



i 



82 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

who turns the poison of his own temper in upon 
himself^. 

(5.) Drive from the mind all silly, trifling, and 
unreasonable thoughts, which sometimes get into 
it we know not.how, and seize and possess it be- 
fore we are aware; and hold it in empty, idle 
amusements, that yield it neither pleasure nor 
profit, and turn to no manner of account in the 
world ; only consume time, and prevent a bet^ 
employment of the mind. And indeed there i^ 
little difference whether we spend the time in 
sleep or in these waking dreams. Nay, if the 
thoughts which thus insensibly steal upon you 
be not altogether absurd and whimsical, yet if 
they be impertinent and unseasonable, they ought 
to be dismissed, because they keep out better 
company. 

(6.) Cast out all wild and extravagant thoughts, 
all vain and fantastical imaginations. Suffer not 
your thoughts to roam upon things that never 
were, and perhaps never will be ; to give you a 
visionary pleasure in the prospect of what you 
have not the least reason to hope, or a needless 
pain in the apprehension of what you have not 
the least reason to fear. — ^The truth is, next to a 
clear conscience and a sound judgment, there is 
not a greater blessing than a regular and well 
governed imagination ; to be able to view things 
as they are, in their true light and proper colours ; 

^ Malitia ipsa maximam partem veoeDi soi bibit.— UInd 
YeDennm quod serpentes in alienam pemiciem profemnt, sine 
suik continent. Non est huic simile ; hoc babentibus pessi* 
mun est. Sen, Epist, 82. 



DOTH CONSIST. 83 

and to distingiiish the false imagies that are painted 
on the fancy, from the representations of truth and 
reason. For how common a tiling is it for men, 
before they are aware> to confound reason and 
fancy, truth and imagination together! To take 
the flashes of the animal spirits for the light of \ 
eyidence; and think they believe things to be i 
true or fiedse, wh^i they only fancy them to be I 
so ; and fancy them to be so, because they would | 
have them so; not considering that mere fancy 
is only the ignis fatuus of the mind; which often 
appears brightest when the mind is most covered 
with darkness; and will be sure to lead them 
astray who follow it as their guide. Near akin 
to these are, 

(7.) Romantic and chimerical thoughts. By 
which I mean that kind of wildfire which the 
briskness of the animal spirits sometimes sud- 
denly flashes on the mind, and excites images 
that are so extremely ridiculous and absurd, that 
one can scarce forbear wondering how they could 
get admittance. These random flights of the 
fancy are soon gone ; and herein differ froni that 
castle-building of the imagination beforemention* 
ed, which is a more settled amusement. But 
these are too incoherent and senseless to be of 
long continuance; and are the maddest sallies, 
and the most ramping reveries of the fancy, that 
can be. — I know not whether my reader under- 
stands now what I mean : but if he attentively 
regards all that passes through his mind, perhaps 
he may hereafter by experience. 

(8.) Bepel all impure and lascivious thoughts, 
which taint and pollute the mind; and though 



84 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

hid from men, are known to God, in whose eye 
they axe abominable. Our Saviour warns us 
against these, as a kind of spiritual fornication^, 
and inconsistent with that purity of heart which 
his gospel requires. 

(9.) Take care how you too much indulge 
gloomy and melancholy thoughts. Some are 
disposed to see every thing in the worst light. 
A black cloud hangs hovering over their minds ; 
which, when it falls in showers through their 
eyes, is dispersed, and all within is serene again. 
This is often purely mechanical ; and owing either 
to some fault in tiie bodily constitution, or some 
accidental disorder in the animal frame. How- 
ever, one that consults the peace of his own mind 
will be upon his guard against this, whibh so often 
robs him of it. 

(10.) On the other hand, let not the imagina- 
tion be too sprightly and triumphant. Some are 
as unreasonably exalted as others are depressed; 
and the same person at different times often runs 
into both extremes, according to the different tem- 
per and flow of the animal spirits. And, there^ 
fore, the thoughts which so eagerly crowd into 
the mind, at such times, ought to be suspected 
and well guarded, otherwise they will impose 
upon our judgments, and lead us to .form such a 
notion of ourselves and of things, as we shall 
soon see fit to alter, when the mind is in a more 
settled and sedate frame. 
I Be fore we let our thoughts judse of thina:s, 
^ we must set Keason to judire our thoughts ; for 
they are not always m a proper condition to exe- 

» Matt y. 28. 



DOTH CONSIST. 85 

cute that office. We do not believe the charac- 
ter which a man gives us of another, unless we 
have a good opinion of his own ; so neither should 
we believe the verdict which the mind pronounces, 
till we first examine whether it be impartial and 
unbiased; whether it be in a proper temper to 
judge, and have proper lights to judge by. The 
want of this previous act of self-judgment is the 
cause of much self-deception and false judg- 
ment. 

(Lastly.) With abhorrence reject immediately 
all profane and blasphemous thoughts; which are 
sometimes suddenly injected into the mind, we 
know not how, though we may give a pretty 
good guess from whence. And all those thoughts 
which are apparently temptations and inducements 
to sin, our Lord hath, by his example, taught us 
to treat in this manner^. 

These then are the thoughts we should care- 
fully guard against. — And as they will (espe- 
cially some of them) be frequently insinuating 
themselves into the heart, remember to set Rea- 
son at the door of it to guard the passage, and 
bar their entrance, or drive them out forthwith 
when entered, not only as impertinent, but mis- 
chievous intruders. 

But, II. There are other kinds of thoughts 
which we ought to indulge, and with great care 
and diligence retain and improve. 

Whatever thoughts give the mind a rational or 
religious pleasure, and tend to improve the heart 
and understanding, are to be favoured, often re- 
calledy and carefully cultivated. Nor should we 

» Matt, iv. 10. 



86 WHEREIN SELF-KKOWLEDGE 

dismiss them, till they have made some impres- 
sions on the mind, which are like to abide there. 

And to bring the mind into a habit of recover- 
ing, retaining, and improving such thoughts, two 
things are necessary. 

(1.) To habituate ourselves to a close and 
rational way of thinking. And (2.) to moral 
reflections and religious contemplations. 

(1.) To prepare and dispose the mind for the 
entertainment of good and useful thoughts, we 
must take care to accustom it to a close and 
rational way of thinking. 

When you have started a good thought, pur- 
sue it; do not presently lose sight of it, or suffer 
any trifling suggestion that may intervene to 
divert you from it. Dismiss it not till you have 
sifted and exhausted it; and well considered the 
several consequences and inferences that result 
from it. However, retain not the subject any 
longer than you find your thoughts run freely 
upon it; for to confine them to it when it is 
quite worn out, is to give them an unnatural 
bent, without sufficient employment; which will 
make them flag, or be more apt to run off to 
something else. 

And to keep the mind intent on the subject 
you think of, you must be at some pains to recall 
and refix your desultory and rambling thoughts. 
Lay open the subject in as many lights and views 
as it is capable of being represented in. Clothe 
your best ideas in pertinent and well chosen 
words, deliberately pronounced; or commit them 
to writing. 

Whatever be the subject, admit of no infer- 



DOTH CONSIST. 87 

ences from it, but what you see plain and natural. 
This is the way to furnish the mind with true and 
solid knowledge. As, on the contrary, false 
knowledge proceeds from not understanding the 
subject, or drawing inferences from it which are 
forced and unnatural, and allowing to those pre- 
carious inferences, or consequences drawn from 
them, the same degree of credibility as to the 
most rational and best established principles. 

Beware of a superficial, slight, or confused 
view of things. Go to the bottom of them, and 
examine the foundation; and be satisfied with 
none but clear and distinct ideas (when they can 
be had), in every thing you read, hear, or think 
of. For resting in imperfect and obscure ideas 
is the source of much confusion and mistake. 

Accustom yourself to speak naturally, perti- 
nently, and rationally, on all subjects, and you 
will soon learn to think so on the best; especially 
if you often converse with those persons tiiat 
speaks and those authors that write, in that 
manner. 

Such a regulation and right management of 
your llioughts and rational powers will be of great 
and general advantage to you in the pursuit of 
youthful knowledge, and a good guard against 
the levities and frantic sallies of the imagination. 
Nor will you be sensible of any disadvantage at- 
tending it, excepting one, viz. its making you 
more sensible of the weakness and ignorance of 
others, who are often talking in a random, incon- 
sequential manner; and whom it may often- 
times be more prudent to bear with than contra- 
dict. But the vast benefit this method will be 



88 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

of in tracing but truth and detecting error, and 
the satisfaction it will give you in the cool and 
regular exercises of self-employment, and in the 
retaining, pursuing, and improving good and use- 
ful thoughts, will more than compensate that 
petty disadvantage. 

(2.) If we would have the mind furnished and 
entertained with good thoughts, we must inure 
it to moral and religious subjects. 

It is certain the mind cannot be more nobly 
and usefully employed than in such kind of con- 
templations; because the knowledge it thereby 
acquires is of all others the most excellent know- 
ledge ; and that both in regard to its object and 
its end ; the object of it being God, and the end 
of it eternal happiness. 

The great end of religion is to make us like 
God, and conduct us to the enjoyment of him. 
And whatever hath not this plain tendency, and 
especially if it have the contrary, men may call 
religion (if they please), but they cannot call it 
more out of its name. And whatever is called 
religious knowledge, if it does not direct us in the 
way to this end, is not religious knowledge ; but 
something else falsely so called.' And some are 
unhappily accustomed to such an abuse of words 
and understanding, as not only to call, but to 
think those things religious, which are quite the 
reverse of it; and those notions, religious know- 
ledge, which lead them the furthest from it. 

The sincerity of a true religious principle can- 
not be better known than by the readiness with 
which the thoughts advert to God, and the plea- 
sure with which they are employed in devout 



DOTH CONSIST. 89 

exercises. And though a person may not always 
be so well pleased with hearing religious things 
talked of by others, whose different taste, senti- 
ments, or manner of expression may have some- 
thing disagi'eeable ; yet if he have no inclination 
to think of them himself, or to converse with 
himself about them, he hath great reason to sus- 
pect that his heart is not right with God. But 
if he frequently and dehghtfuUy exercise his 
mind in cUvine contemplations, it will not only 
be a good mark of his sincerity, but will habi- 
tually dispose it for the reception of the best and 
^lost useful thoughts, and fit it for the noblest 
entertainments. 

Upon the whole, then, it is of as great import- 
ance for a man to take heed what thoughts he 
entertains as what company he keeps ; for they 
have the same effect upon the mind. Bad 
thoughts are as infectious as bad company ; and 
good thoughts solace, instruct, and entertain 
the mind, like good company. And this is one 
great advantage of retirement, that a man may 
choose what company he pleases from within 
himself. 

As in the world we oftener light into bad com- 
pany than good, so in solitude we are oftener 
troubled with impertinent and unprofitable 
thoughts than entertained with agi*eeable and 
useful ones; and a man that hath so far lost 
the conmiand of himself, as to lie at the mercy 
of every foolish or vexing thought, is much in the 
same situation as a host, whose house is open 
to all comers ; whom, though ever so noisy, rude, 
and troublesome, he cannot get rid of; but with 
this difference, that the latter hath some recom- 



90 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

pense for his trouble, the former none at all ; bat 
is robbed of his peace and quiet for nothing. 

Of such vast importance to the peace, as well 
as the improvement of the mind, is the right 
regulation of the thoughts; which will be my 
apology for dwelling so long on this branch of 
the subject; which I shall conclude with this one 
observation more; that it is a very dangerous 
thing to think, as too many are apt to do, that 
it is a matter of indifference what thoughts they 
entertain in their hearts; since the reason of 
things concur with the testimony of the holy 
Sciiptures to assure us, that the allowed thought 
of foolishness is sin ^®* ". 



CHAP. XV. 

CONCERNING THE MEMORY. 

14. A MAN that knows himself will have are- 
gdid not only to the management of his thougntsr 
- "biit'Sie improvement of his yien^^g^. 

The memory is that faculty of the soul, which 
was designed for the storehouse or repository of 
its most useful notions, where they may be laid 
up in safety, to be produced upon proper occa- 
sions. 

Now a thorough self-acqudntance cannot be 
had without a proper regard to this, in two re- 

»o Prov. xxiv. 9. 

^* Nam scelas inter se taoitom qai cc^itat ullnm 

Facti crimen habet. Juv, Sat. 13. 

Guard well thy thoughts : onr thoughts are heard in hearen. 

Young, 



DOTH CONSIST. 91 

spects. (1.) Its furniture. (2.) Its improve- 
ment. 

(1.) A man that knows himself will have a re- 
gard to the furniture of his memory; not to load 
kwith trash and lumber, a set of useless notions 
or low conceits, which he will be ashamed to pro- 
dace before persons of taste and judgment. 

If the retention be bad, do not crowd it : it is 
of as ill consequence to overload a weak memory 
as a weak stomach. And that it may not be cum- 
bered with trash, take heed what company you 
keep, what boi^s you read, and what thoughts 
you favour; otherwise a great deal of useless 
rubbish may fix there before you are aware, and 
take up the room which ought to be possessed by 
better notions. But let not a valuable thought 
slip from you, though you pursue it with much 
time and pains before you overtake it ; the re- 
gaining and refixing it, may be of more avail to 
you than many hours reading. 

What pity it is that men should take such im- 
mense pains, as some do, to learn those things 
which, as soon as they become wise, they must 
take as much pains to unlearn ! — A thought that 
should make us very curious and cautious about 
the proper furniture of our minds. 

(2.) Self-Knowledge will acquaint a man with 
the extent and capacity of his memory, and the 
right way to improve it^. 

There is no small art in improving a weak 

Tribng r elmfl potissimniii constat o ptima m emoria, in- / 
cto, UrdSe , Cmy , siqaidem bona meihorice pSTflTest rem ( 
litns intebexisse^ torn Ordo faoit, nt qnse semel excide- \ 
rent, qnasi postliminio in animnm reyooamns; .porro Cnra 
omnibas in rebns, non hie tantnm pinrimnm ralet. ^r<Miit. 
de rat, stud* ad cole, Ringelbergii, p. 168. 




• 

I 



y' 



^z 



92 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

memory, so as to turn it to as great an advan* 
tage as many do theirs which are much stronger. 

\ A few short rules to this purpose may be no un- 
profitable digression. 

(1.) Beware of every sort of intemperance in 
the indulgence of the appetites and passions. 
Excesses of all J ^inH g^ do _a gr^^t injury to the 

I m emory . 

\ ^ (2.) If it be weak, do not overload it . Charge 

it only with the most usetui and soTid notions. 
A small vessel should not be stuffed with lumber. 
But if its freight be precious, and judiciously 
stowed, it may be more valuable than a ship of 
twice its burthen. 

(3.) Recur to the help of a con fjffp^n-plg^^^- 
book, according to Mr. Lockers method : and re- 
view it once a year. But take care that by con- 
fiding to your minutes or memorial aids, you do 
not excuse the labour of the memory ; which is 
one disadvantage attending this method. 

(4.) Ta ke every opportunity qf uttering yyuri 
best thoughts in conversation , when the subject 
will acbmc li;; tnat will deeply imprint them. — 
Hence the tales which common story tellers re- 
late, they never forget, though ever so silly ^. 

\ (5.) Join to the idea you would remembejL 

I some omer that is more famiEar to you, which 



) 

t 

I 

f 



j,w.,,.J%.t -l** '*'~J*.^ 



i ^ Quicqaid didlceris id confestim doceas : sio et tua fir- 
I mare, et prodesse aliis potes. Ringelbergius de roHome 
I studii, p. 28. 

\ Postremo illnd non ad nnam aliquid, sed ad omnia aimal 
\ plarimum conducet, si frequenter alios quoque doceas. Nns- 

qaam enim melius deprehenderis quid intelliges, quid non. 

Atqne interim nova qoaeqne oocumint, conunentanti disseren- 

tiqnei nihil non altins infigitar animo. Erasm, Rot* de rat* 

stud. p. 170. 






DOTH CONSIST. 93 

bears some similitude to it, either in its nature 
or in the sound of the word by which it is ex- 
pressed ; or that hath some relation to it either in 
time or place. And then by recalling this, which 
is easily remembered, you will (by that concate- 
nation, or connexion of ideas, which Mr. Locke 
takes notice of) draw in that which otherwise 
you might hunt after in yain. — ^This rule is thu^ 
linked or joined with it; which is of excellent 
use to help you to remember names. 

(6.) What you are determined to remembe r } 
think of tetore you go to stee p at nigbt, and the ^ 
first thing in the morning, wheh the faculties are 
fresh; and recollect at evening every thing worth 
remembering the day past. 

(7.) Think it not enough to furnish this store- \ 
house of the mind with good thoughts, but lay 
*}y^JX\ "P ^fiflB i" 0''d«>''- digested or ranged un3^ 
proper subjects or classes ; that whatever subject * 
you have occasion to think or talk upon you may 
have recourse immediately to a good thought 
which you heretofore laid up there under that 
subject. So that the very mention of the subject 
may bring the thought to hand ; by which means 
you will carry a regular common-placejbpok in 
your memory. And it may not be ^^ss some- 
times to take an inventory of this ]liental^ftlMsi>^ 
ture, and recollect how many good thoughts you 
have treasured up under such particular subjects, 
and whence you had them. 

(Lastly.) Nothing helps the memory more { 
t han often th inking, wnting. or talking on Hhose i 
subjects you would remember.— But enough of ! 



04 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 



1 



CHAP. XVI. 

CONCERNING THE MENTAL TASTE. 

15. A MAN that knows himself is sensible oC 

and attentive t /^ thp nftrt.ipnli^y taatA nf ^^ Tninjl, 

especiaiiy in matters o^^ religion. 

As the late Mr. Howe judiciously observes, 
there ** is, beside bare understanding and judg- 
ment, and diverse from that heavenly gift, which 
in the Scripture is called grace, such a thing as 
gust and relish belonging to the mind of man 
(and, I doubt not, with all men, if they observe 
lhemselves)> and which are as unaccountable and 
as various as the rehshes and disgusts of sense. 
This they only wonder at who understand not 
themselves, or will consider nobody but them- 
selves. — So that it cannot be said universally, 
that it is a better judgment, or more grace that 
determines men the one way or the other ; but 
somewhat in the temper of their minds distinct 
from both, which I Imow not how better to ex- 
press than by mental taste. And thb hath no 
more of mystery in it than that there is such a 
thing belonging to our natures as complacency 
and displacency in reference to the objects of 
the mind. And this, in the kind of it, is as com- 
mon to men as human nature; but as much 
diversified in individuals as men's other inclina- 
tions are^." 

* See his humble reqnest both to Conformists and Dissen- 
ters. 



DOTH CONSIST. 95 

Now this different taste in matters relating to 
religion (though it may be sometimes natural, or 
what is bom with a man, yet) generally arises 
from the difference of education and custom. 
And the true reason why some persons have an 
inyeterate disrelish to certain circumstantials of 
rehgion, though ever so justifiable, and at the 
same time a fixed esteem for others that are more 
exceptionable, may be no better than what I have 
heard some very honestly profess, viz. that the 
one they have been used to, and the other not. 
As a person by long use and habit acquires a 
greater relish for coarse and unwholesome food 
than the most delicate diet; so a person long 
habituated to a set of phrases, notions, and modes, 
may, by degrees, come to have such a veneration 
and esteem for them, as to despise and condemn 
others which they have not been accustomed to, 
though perhaps more edifying, and more agree- 
able to scripture and reason. 

This particular taste in matters of religion dif- 
fers very much (as Mr. Howe well observes) 
both from judgment and grace. 

However, it is often mistaken for both : when 
it is mistaken for the former, it leads to error; 
when mistaken for the latter, to censoriousness. 

This different taste of mental objects is much 
the same with that which, with regard to the 
objects of sense, we call fancy ; for as one man 
cannot be said to have a better judgment in food 
than another, purely because he likes some kind 
of meats better than he ; so neither can he be said 
to have a better judgment in matters of religion. 



96 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

purely because he hath a gi-eater fondness for 
some particular doctrines and forms. 

But though this mental taste be not the same 
as the judgment, yet it often draws the judgment 
to it ; and sometimes very much penrerts it. 

This appears in nothing more evidently than in 
the judgment people pass upon the sermons they 
hear. Some are best pleased with those dis- 
courses that are pathetic and warming; others 
with what is more solid and rational ; and others 
with the sublime and mystical : nothinig can be 
too plain for the taste of some, or too refined for 
that of others. Some are for having the address 
only to their reason and understanding; others 
only to their affections and passions ; and others 
to their experience and consciences; and every 
hearer or reader is apt to judge according to his 
particular taste, and to esteem him the best 
preacher or writer who pleases him most; with- 
out examining first his own particular taste, by 
which he judgeth. 

It is natural indeed for every one to desire to 
have his own taste pleased ; but it is unreason- 
able in him to set it up as the best, and make it 
a test and standard to others: but much more 
unreasonable to expect that he who speaks in 
public should always speak to his taste; which 
might as reasonably be expected by another of a 
different one. It is equally impossible that what 
is delivered to a multitude of hearers should aUke 
suit all their tastes as that a single dish, though 
prepared with ever so much art and exactness, 
should equally please a great variety of appetites; 



DOTH CONSIST. 97 

among which there may be some, perhaps, very 

nice and sickly. 

It is the preacher's duty to adapt his subjects 

to the taste of his hearers, as far as fidelity and 

conscience will admit ; because it is well known, 

from reason and experience, as well as from the 

adyice and practice of the apostle Paul^, that 

this is the best way to promote their edification. 

But if their taste be totally vitiated, and incline 

them to take in that which will do them more 

harm than good, and to relish poison more than 

food, the most charitable thing the preacher can 

do, in that case, is to endeavour to correct so 

vicious an appetite, which loathes that which is 

most wholesome, and craves pernicious food; 

this, I say, it is his duty to attempt in the most 

gentle and prudent manner he can, though he run 

the risk of having his judgment or orthodoxy 

called into question by them, as it veiy possibly 

may ; for commonly they are the most arbitrary 

and unmerciful judges, in this case, who are least 

of all qualified for that office. 

There is not perhaps a more unaccountable 
weakness in human nature than this, that with 
regard to religious matters our animosities are 
generally greatest where our differences are least;, 
they who come pretty near to our standard, but 
stop short there, are more the objects of our dis- 
gust and censure than they who continue at the 
greatest distance from it. And in some cases it 

* Rom. XT. 2. Let wery one of us please his neighbour for [ 
his good to edification, 1 Cor. ix. 22. To the weak became I | 
as weak, that I might gain the weak : Ljugjg^^eaU thwgs to 
aU men, that I might by all means save some. 



98 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

requires much candour and self-command to get 
over this weakness. To whatever secret spring 
in the human mind it may he owing^ I shall not 
stay to inquire ; hut the thing itself is too ohvious 
not to he taken notice of. 

'Now we should all of us he careful to find out 
and examine our proper taste of religious things ; 
that if it he a false one, we may rectify it; if a 
had one, mend it; if a right and good one, 
strengthen and improve it: for the mind is ca- 
pable of a false gust as well as the palate ; and 
comes hy it the same way ; viz. hy heing long 
used to unnatural relishes, which, hy custom, be- 
come grateful. And having found out what it is, 
and examined it hy the test of scripture, reason, 
and conscience, if it he not very wrong, let us 
^ indulge it, and read those books that are most 
suited to it, which for that reason will be most' 
edifying. But at the same time let us take care 
of two things : (1.) That it do not bias our judg- 
ment, and draw us into error. (2.) That it do not 
cramp our charity, and lead us to censoriousness^ 



DOTH CONSIST. 99 

CHAR XVIL 

OF OUR GREAT AND GOVERNING VIEWS IN LIFE. 

17. Another part of self-knowledge is to know \ 
what are the gr eat ends for whichwe liveT^'"*""^ * y 

must consider wtiat is the ultimate scope 
we drive at ; the general maxims and principles 
we live by; or whether we have not yet deter- 
mined our end, and are governed by no fixed prin- 
ciples ; or by such as we are ashamed to own. 

*' The first and leading dictate of prudence is, 
that a man propose to himself his true and best 
interest for his end; and the next is, that he 
make use of all those means and opportunities 
whereby that end is to be obtained. This is the 
most effectual way that I know of to secure to 
one's self the character of a wise man here, and 
the reward of one hereafter. And between these 
two there is such a close connexion that he who 
does not do the latter cannot be supposed to in- 
tend the former. He that is not careful of his 
actions shall never persuade me that he seriously 
proposes to himself his best interest as his end ; 
for if he did, he would as seriously apply himself 
to the regulation of the other as the means ^." 

There are few that live so much at random as 
not to have some 'main end in eye; something 
that influences their conduct, and is the great 
object of their pursuit and hope. A man cannot 
live without some leading views; a wise man 
will always know what they are ; whether it is 

^ Norria** Mi$e, p. 18. 



100 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

fit he should be led by them or no ; whether they 
be such as his understanding and reason approve^ 
or only such as fancy and inclination suggest. 
He will be as much concerned to act with reason 
as to talk with reason; as much ashamed of a 
solecism and contradiction in his character as in 
his conversation. 

Where do our views centre ? in this world we 
are in, or that we are going to? If our hopes 
and joys centre here, it is a mortifying thought 
that we are every day departing from our happi- 
ness ; but if they are fixed above, it is a joy to 
think that we are every day drawing nearer to 
the object of our highest wishes. 

Is our main care to appear great in the eye of 
man, or good in the eye of God ? If the former, 
we expose ourselves to the pain of a perpetual 
disappointment. For it is much if the envy of 
men do not rob us of a good deal of our just 
praise, or if our vanity will be content with that 
portion of it they allow us. But if the latter be 
our main care, if our chief view is to be approved 
of God, we are laying up a fund of the most 
lasting and solid satisfactions. Not to say that 
this is the truest way to appear great in the eye 
of man, and to conciliate the esteem of all those 
whose praise is worth our wish. 

** Be this then, O my soul, thy wise and steady 
pursuit; let this circumscribe and direct thy 
views ; be this a law to thee, from which account 
it a sin to depart, whatever disrespect or con- 
tempt it may expose thee to from others * ; be 

' 0(Ta TrpoTiOerai, thtoiq wg i/o/ioig, kcu wq avt^titrww 
av TrapafSrjQ rt rtfrsv efifieve* On ^ av tpij rig vtpi <ru 



DOTH CONSIST. 101 

this the character thou resolvest to live up to, and 
at all times to maintain both in public and pri- 
vate', viz. a friend and lover of God; in whose 
favour thou centrest all thy present and future 
faopes. Carry this view with thee through life, 
and dare not in any instance^ to act inconsistently 
with it.** 




CHAP. XVIII. 

HOW TO KNOW THE TRUE STATE OF OUR SOULS ; AND WHE- 
THER WE ARE FIT TO DIE. 

Lastly, the most important point of self-know- 
ledge, after all, is to know the true state of our 
.souls towards God; and m what condition we 
are to die. 

These two things are inseparably connected in 
their nature, and therefore I put them together. 
The knowledge of the former will determine the 
latter, and is the only thing that can determine it ; 
for no man can tell whether he is fit for death till 
he is acquainted with the true state of his own 
soul. 

This now is a matter of such vast moment that 
it is amazing any considerate man, or any one 
who thinks what it is to die, can be satisfied, so 
long as it remains an uncertainty. — Let us trace 

fifl riTn*^pi^ii, Epict. Ench, cap. 74. — What yon have once 
wisely proposed stick to, as a law not to be violated without 
gnilt ; and mind not what others say of yon. 

' TaKov Tiva fidtj "xapaKTtipa (reavrio, km rvirovt ov 0i;- 
Xa^rjg trt re (rsavm, Kai avOpiOTroig ivrvxavtov* Idem, 
cap. 40. — Fix yonr character, and keep to it, whether alone or 
in company. 



102 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

out this important point then with all possible 
plainness ; and see if we cannot come to some 
satisfaction in it upon the most solid principles. 

In order to know then whether we are fit to 
die, we must first know what it is that fits us for 
death. — And the answer to this is very natural 
and easy ; viz. that only fits us for death which 
fits us for happiness after death. 

This is certain. — But the question returns. 
What is it that fits us for happiness after death ? 

Now, in answer to this, there is a previous 
question necessary to be determined ; viz. what 
that happiness is ? 

It is not a fooFs paradise, or a Turkish dream 
of sensitive gratifications. It must be a happi- 
ness suited to the nature of the soul, and what it 
I is capable of enjoying in a state of separation 
from the body. And what can that be but the 
enjoyment of God, the best of beings, and the 
Author of ours ? 

The question then comes to this. What is that 
which fits us for the enjoyment of God, in the 
future state of separate spirits ? 

And methinks we may bring this matter to a 
very sure and short issue ; by saying, it is that 
which makes us like to him now.' — ^This only is 
our proper qualification for the enjoyment of him 
after death, and therefore our only proper prepar- 
ration for death. For how can they, who are un- 
like to God here, expect to enjoy him hereaft^ ? 
and if they have no just ground to hope that they 
shall enjoy jGod in die other world, how are they 
fit to die ? 
I So that the great question. Am I fit to die ? 



DOTH CONSIST. 103 

resolves itself into this, Am I like to God ? for it 
is this only that fits me for heaven; and that 
which fits me for heaven is the only thing that fits 
me for death. 

Let this point then be well searched into, and 
examined very deliberately and impartially. 

Most certain it is that God can take no real 
complacency in any but those that are like him ; 
and it is as certain that none but those that are j 
like him can take pleasure in him. — But God is ^ 
a most pure and holy being ; a being of infinite 
love, mercy, and patience ; whose righteousness 
is invariable, whose veracity is inviolable, and 
whose wisdom unerring. These are the moral 
attributes of the Divine Being, in which he re- 
quires us to imitate him ; the express lineaments 
of the divine nature, in which all good men bear 
a resemblance to him ; and for the sake of which 
only they are the objects- of his delight : for God 
can love none but those that bear this impress of 
his own image on their souls. Do we find then 
these visible traces of the divine image there? 
Can we make out our likeness to him in his holi- 
ness, goodness, mercy, righteousness, truth, and 
wisdom? If so, it is certain we are capable of 
enjoying him, and are the proper objects of his 
love. — By this we know we are fit to die; be- 
cause by this we know we are fit for happiness 
after death. 

Thus then, if we are faithful to our consci- 
ences, and impartial in the examination of our 
lives and tempers, we may soon come to a right ^ 
determination of this important question, What is 



104 WHEREIN SELF-KNOWLEDGE, ETC. 

the true state of our souls towards God ? and id 
what condition we are to die^? which, as it is 
the most important, so it is the last instance of 
self-knowledge I shall mention ; and with it close 
the first part of this subject. 

^ ** Nor do I apprehend the knowledge of onr state (call 
it assarance if yon please) so uncommon and extraordinary a 
thing as some are apt to imagine. Understand by assurance a 
satisfactory evidence of the thing, such as excludes all reasoBt 
able doubts and disquieting fears of the contrary, though, it 
may be, not at all transient suspicions and jealousira. And 
such an assurance and certainty multitudes have attuned, and 
enjoy the comfort of; and indeed it is of so high impfHrtanoe 
that it is a wonder any thoaghtful Christian- that belieres an 
eternity can be easy one week or day without it." JBamuf** 
Christ, Orat. p. 569. 



SELF KWOWl^ElXiS. 

PABT II. 




TREATISE 

OF 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE 



PART SECOND. 



SHOWING THE GREAT EXCELLENCY AND ADVANTAGES OF 

THIS KIND OF SCIENCE. 

Having in the former part of the subject laid 
open some of the main branches of self-know- 
ledge, or pointed out the principal things which 
a man ought to be acquainted with, relating to 
himself, I am now (reader) to lay before you the 
excellency and usefulness of this kind of know- 
ledge (as an inducement to labour after it) by a 
detail of the several great advantages attending 
it; which shall be recounted in the following 
chapters. 



CHAP. I. 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE THE SPRING OF SELF-POSSESSION. 

1. One great advantage of self-knowledge is, 
that it gives a man the truest and most constant 
self-possession. 

f3 



( 



100 



THE OREAT ADVANTAGES 



> 



I 



\ 




A man that is endowed with this excellent 
knowledge is calm and easy. 

(1.) Under affronts and defamation; for he 
thinks thus : '' I am sure I know myself better 
than jmy man can pretend to know me. This 
calumniator hath, indeed, at this time, missed his 
mark, and shot his arrows at random; and it is 
my comfort that my conscience acquits me of his 
angry imputation. However, there are worse 
crimes which he might more justly accuse me 
of; which, though hid from him, are known to 
myself. Let me set about reforming them ; lest, 
if they come to his notice, he should attack me 
in a more defenceless part, find something to 
fasten his obloquy, and fix a lasting reproach 
upon my character^." 

There is a great deal of truth and good sense 
in that common saying and doctrine of the Stoics, 
though they might carry it too far. That it b not 
things but thoughts that disturb and hurt us^. 
Now as self-acquaintance teaches a man the right 
government of the thoughts (as is shown above. 
Part I. Chap. XIV.) it will help him to expel all 

^ Bav TiQ 901 avayytiXfi, on o Suva tn Kcaettc Xeyct, pui 
airoKoyB irpOQ ra Xcxwvra* ccXX' atroKpvtm, on ijyvoci yap 
ra dXka irpoaovra /loi Koxa, cttci bk av ravra fwva eXcycv. 
E^ict. Encb. cap. 48. — If you are told that another reviles 
youT^o not go tUfout to vindicaie yourself, but reply thus: My 
other faults J find are hid from him, else I should have heard 
of them too. 

' Tapa<T<Tit tsq av9pCi}'7rBg, a ra wpayjiara, aXKa ra irept 
T(t)V vpayfiaTwv doyfiaTcu Id. cap. 10. — It is not things, 
hut men's opinions of things that disturb them, 

M€fivfi<ro on ovk o \oMop<av t) tvtttwv v/3pt^et, oiSXa to 
Soyiia T€ wipi rovnav cog vj3pi^ovru»v. Id. cap. 27. — Re- 
member, it is not he that reviles or assaults you that injures 
you, but your thinking that they have injured you, — Sc yap 



fC. 



9( ).^v-!. 



U rr^ ' 



*^Ct^ 



» 



L^/yr> 



i 



i^>, 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 107 

anxioas, tormenting, and fruitless thoughts, and 
retain the most quieting and useful ones ; and so 
keep all easy within. Let a man but try the ex- 
periment, and he will find, that a Httle resolution 
will make the greatest part of the difficulty 
Tanish. . 

(2.) Self-knowledge will be a good ballast to 
the mind under any accidental hurry or disorder 
of the passions. It curbs their im]jetuosity ; puts 
the reins into the hands of reason : quells the 
rising storm ere it make shipwreck of the con- 
science ; and teaches a man to leave off contention 
before it be meddled with ^, it being much safer 
to keep the lion chained than to encounter it in 
its full strength and fury. And thus will a wise 
tnan, for his own peace, deal with the passions of 
others as well as his own. 

Self-knowledge, as it acquaints a man with his 
weaknesses and worst qualities, will be his guard 
against them ; and a happy counterbalance to the 
faults and excesses of his natural temper. 

oXXoc ov /3Xa^£(,av/if7 (rv^fXiy^* roTi di tffri ^apKafifievogt 
orav vTToXa^riQ ^XawTttrOai. Id. pag. 37. — No man can 
hurt you, unless you please to let him ; then only are you hurt 
when you think yourself m. 

Ta trpayjiaTa ovk a-jmrai ttiq ypvxriQ, aXK* t^u tatiKtv 
aTpsfWvvra' ai dt oxXijcrcif, ck fiovrig Tfigtvdov viroXriypriwQ, 
Marc. AntoD. Med. Jib. 4. sec. 3. — Things do not touch the 
nindj but stand quietly without ; the vexation comes from with- 
in, from our suspicions only, — Again, Ta irpayftara avra 
ad* OTTwriBV y^vxvc awrcrat* sde £x^i tiffodov iroog ^l/vxfiv. 
fide rpc^ai 8^e Kivri<yai ypvxtiv dvvaraf rptiru oe km jctvfi 
avTTi tavTfiv fiovfi* Id. lib. 6. sec. 19. — Things themselves 
cannot affect the mind; for they have no entrance into it, to 
turn and move it: it is the mind alone that turns and moves 
itself 

^ Prov. xvii. 14. 



108 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

^ (3.) It will keep the mind sedate and cahn 

under the surprise of bad news, or afflicting pro- 
vidences. 

** For am I not a creature of God ? and my life 
and comforts, are they not wholly at his dispose, 
from whom I have received them ; and by whose 
favour I have so long enjoyed them; and by 
whose mercy and goodness I have still so many 
left? 

'' A heathen can teach me, under such losses 
of friends, or estate, or any comfort, to direct my 
eyes to the hand of God, by whom it was lent 
me, and is now recalled ; that I ought not to say 
it is lost, but restored. And though I be injuri- 
ously deprived of it, still the hand of God is to 
be acknowledged ; for what is it to me by what 
means He (who gave me that blessing) takes it 
from me again*?" 

He that rightly knows himself will live every 
'day dependent on the divine Author of his mer- 
cies for the continuance and enjoyment of them ; 
and will learn from a higher authority than that 
of a heathen moralist, that he hath nothing he can 
properly call his own, or ought to depend upon 
as such : that he is but a steward employed to dis- 
pense the good things he possesses, according to 
the direction of his lord, at whose pleasure he 
holds them ; and to whom he should be ready at 
any time cheerfully to resign them. Luke, xvi. 1. 

(4.) Self-knowledge will help a man to pre- 
serve an equanimity and self-possession under all 
the various scenes of adversity and prosperity. 

Both have their temptations : to some the 

^ Epictet. Enckirid, cap. 15. 



\ 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 109 

temptations of prosperity are the greatest; to 
others, those of adversity. Self-knowledge shows 
a man which of these are greatest to him : and, 
at the apprehensions of them, teaches him to arm 
himself accordingly; that nothing may deprive 
him of his constancy and self-possession, or lead 
him to act unbecoming the man or the Christian. 

We commonly say, No one knows what he 
can][bear till he is tried. And many persons verify 
the observation by bearing evils much better 
than they feared. Nay, the apprehension of an 
approaching evil often gives a man a greater 
pain than the evil itself. This is owing to inex- 
perience and self-ignorance. 

A man that knows himself, his own strength 
and weakness, is not so subject as others to th^ 
melancholy presages of the imagination ; and 
whenever they intrude, he makes no other use of 
them than to take the warning, collect himself, 
and prepare for the coming evil; leaving the 
degree, duration, and the issue of it with Him 
who is the Sovereign Disposer of all events, in 
a quiet dependence on his power, wisdom, and 
goodness. 

Such self-possession is one great effect and 
advantage of self-knowledge. 



110 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 



\ 



CHAP. II. 

8ELF-KN01YLEDGE LEADS TO ▲ WISE AND STEADY CONDUCT. 

2. As self-knowledge yrill keep a man calm and 
equal in his temper, so it will make him wise 
and cautious m his conduc t. 

A precipitant and rash conduct is ever the effect 
of a confused and irregular hurry of thought : so 
that when, by the influence of self-knowledge, 
the thoughts become codi, sedate, and rational, 
the conduct will be so too. It will give a man 
that even, steady, uniform behaviour in the 'ma- 
nagement of his affairs, that is so necessary for 
the despatch of business ; and prevent many dis- 
appointments and troubles which arise from the 
unsuccessful execution of immature or ill judged 
projects. 

In short, most of die trouble^ which men meet 
with in the world may be traced up to this 
source, and resolved into self-ignorance. We 
may complain of Providence, and complain of 
men; but the fault, if we examine it, will com- 
monly be found to be our own. Our imprudence, 
which arises from self-ignorance, either brings 
our troubles upon us, or increases them. Want 
of temper and conduct will make any affliction 
double. 

What a long train of difficulties do sometimes 
proceed from one wrong step in our conduct, 
into which self-ignorance or inconsideration be- 
trayed us! And every evil that befalls us in 
consequence of that, we are to charge upon our- 
selves. 



OF SELF-KKOWLED6E. Ill 



CHAP. III. 

HUMILITT THE EFFECT OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

3. True self-knowledge always produces Im- 
mility. 

i'ride IS ever the offspring of self-ignorance. 
The reason men are vain and self-sufficient is^ i 
because they do not know their own failings; | 
and the reason they are not better acquainted;' 
with them is, because they hate self-inspection^ 
Let a man but turn his eyes within, scrutinize 
himself, and study his own heart, and he will 
soon see enough to make him humble, Beholdy | 
/ am vile^f is the language only of self-know- | 
ledge*. ^ 

Whence is it that young people are genendly 
so Tain, self-sufficient, and assured, but because 
they have taken no time or pains to cultivate a 
self-acquaintance ? And why does pride and stiff- 
ness appear so often in advanced age, but be- 
cause men grow old in self-ignorance? A mo- 
derate degree of self-knowledge would cure an 
mordinate degree of self-complacency ^. 

* Job, xi. 4. 

' Qui bene seipsum cognoscit sibi ipsi Tilescit, nee landi- 
bas delectatar bmnanis. Tho. a Kemp* de Imit. Chr. lib* 1. 
cap, 2. 

^ Qaanto qnis minns se videt, tanto minas se displicet* 
Greg, 



112 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

Humility is not more necessary to salvation 
than self-knowledge is to humility^. 

It would effectually prevent that bad dispo- 
sition which is too apt to steal upon and infect 
some of the best human minds (especially those 
who aim at singular and exalted degrees of piety) 
viz. a religious vanity or spiritual pride : which, 
without a good deal of self-knowledge and self- 
attention, will gradually insinuate into the heart, 
taint the mind, and sophisticate our virtues be- 
fore we are aware ; and, in proportion to its pre- 
valence, make the Christian temper degenerate 
into the pharisaical. 

" Might I be allowed to choose my own lot, I 
should think it much more eligible to want my 
spiritual comforts, than to abound in these at the 
expense of my humility. No ; let a penitent and 
a contrite spirit be always my portion ; and may 
I ever so be the favourite of Heaven as never to 
forget that I am chief of sinners. Knowledge in 
the sublime and glorious mysteries of the Chris- 
tian faith, and ravishing contemplations of God 
and a future state, are most desirable advantages ; 
but still I prefer charity, which edifieth before 
the highest intellectual perfections of that know- 
ledge which puffeth up^. — ^Those spiritual ad- 

* Scio neminem absqae soi cognitione salyari, de qa& 
nimirum mater salutis, hnmilitas oritar, et timor Domini. 
Bernard. — Utraqne cognitio Dei, scilicet et tui, tibi necessaria 
est ad salatem ; quia sicat ex notiti& tni venit in te timor Dei, 
atqne ex Dei notiti^ itidem amor ; sic ^ contra, ex ignorantia 
tni, snperbia, ac de Dei ignorantia venit desperatio. Idem in 
Cantic. 

. * 1 Cor. viii. 1. 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 113 

vantages are certainly best for us which increase 
our modesty and awaken our caution, and dis- 
pose us to suspect and deny ourselves. — The 
highest in God's esteem are meanest in their 
own : — and their excellency consists in the meek- 
ness and truth, not in the pomp and ostentation 
of piety, which' affects to be seen and admired of 
men^." 



, ^ Stanhope's Tho. a Kemp. B. 2. cA. 11. 

[Christ.] *' My son, when thoa feelest thy soul warmed 
with devotion and holy zeal for my service, it will be advisable 
to decline all those methods of publishing it to the world, 
which Tain men are so indastrious to take ; and content thy- 
self with its being known to Grod and thine own conscience. 
Rather endeavour to moderate and suppress those pompous 
expressions of it, in which some place the very perfection of 
eeal. Think meanly of thy own virtues. — Some men, of a 
bold ungovemed zed, aspire at things beyond their strength, 
and express more vehemence than conduct in their actions. 
iThey are perfectly carried out of themselves with eagerness ; 
forget that they are still poor insects upon earth, and think of 
nothing less than building their nests in heaven. Now these 
are often left to themselves, and taught by sad experience, that 
the faint flutterings of men are weak and ineffectual ; and that 
none soars to heaven except I assist his flight,, and mount him 
on my own wings. Virtue does not consist in abundance of 
illumination and knowledge ; but in lowlioess of mind, in 
meekness, and charity ; in a mind entirely resigned to Grod, 
and sincerely disposed to serve and please him ; in a just 
sense of every man's vileness ; and not only thinking very 
meanly of one's self, but being well content to be so thought 
of by others." Id, Book 3. chap, 8. 

" It is a dangerous drunkenness, 1 confess, that of wine ; 
but there is another more dangerous. How many souls do I 
see in the world drunk with vanity, and a high opinion of 
themselves ! This drunkenness causes them to make a thou- 
sand false steps, and a thousand stumbles. Their ways are 
all oblique and crooked. Like men in drink, they have always 
a great opinion of their own wisdom, their power, and their 
prudence ; all which often fail them. — Examine well thyself, 
my soul ; see if thou art not tainted with this evil. Alas ! if 
thou deniest it, thou provest it* It is great pride to think one 



1 



114 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

CHAP. IV. 

CHARITY ANOTHER EFFECT OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

4. Self-knowledge greatly pr omotes a spirit 
of meek ness and ch arity. 

The more a man is acquainted with his own 
failings, the more is he disposed to make allow- 
ances for those of others. The knowledge he 
hath of himself will incline him to be as severe 
in his animadversions on his own conduct as he 
is on that of others ; and as candid to their faults 
as he is to his own ^. 

There is an uncommon beauty, force, and pro- 
priety in that caution which our Saviour gives 
I us : And why heholdest thou the mote that is in 
thy brother's eye, but considerest nqt the beam 
that is in thine own eye? Or, how wilt thou say 
to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of 
thine eye, and behold a beam is in thine own eye? 
Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine' 
own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast 
out the mote out of thy brother's eye^. In which 

has no pride ; for it is to think joa are as good indeed as yon 
esteem yourself. But there is no man in the world hat esteems 
himself better than he truly is. 

** Thou wilt say, it may be> thoa hast a very ill opinion of 
thyself. Bat be assared, my soal, thoa dost not despise thy- 
self so much as thou art troly despicable. If thoa dost de- 
spise thyself indeed, thoa makest a merit of that Tery thing ; 
so that pride is attached to this very contempt of thyself." 
Jurieu's Method ofDevoi. page S, ch, 10. 

* ** The great God seems to have giren that oommandment 
(know thyself) to those men more especially who are apt to 
make remarks on other men's actions, and forget themselves." 
Plutarch's Mor,VoLI,pag.27'i. 

« Matt.vu.3— 5. 



OF SBLF-KNOWLBD6E. 115 

words these four things are plainly mtimated; 
(1.) That some are much more quick-sighted to 
discern the faults and blemishes of others than 
their own: can spy a mote in another's eye 
sooner than a beam in their own. (2.) That they 
are often the most forward to correct and cure 
the foibles of others, who are most unqualified 
for that office. The beam in their own eye 
makes them altogether unfit to pull out the mote 
from their brother's. A man half blind himself 
should never set up for an oculist. (3.) That 
they who are inclined to deal in censure should 
always begin at home. (4.) Great censoriousness 
is great hypocrisy. Thou hypocrite, &c. all this 
is nothing but the effect of woful self-ignorance. 

This common failing of the human nature the i . y^ 
heathens were very sensible of ^ ; and imaged it • ' 
in the following manner : — every man (say they) 
carries a wallet, or two bags, with him; the one 
hanging before him, and the other behind him; 
mto that before, he puts the faults of others ; into 
that behind, his own ; by which means he never 
sees his own failings whilst he has those of others 
always before his eyes*. « 

' Egomet ml ignosco, MaeDins inquit 

Stoltas et improbas hie amor est, dignnsqae notari. 
Cilim taa praetereas ocalis mal^ Lippus inunctis. 
Car in amicoram yitiis tarn cernis aoutom 
Qakm ant aquila, aut serpens Epidaurius? 

Hor, Sat. 3 U6. 1. 

Fit enim, nescio quomodo, nt magis in aliis oernamus quam | 
in nobismet ipsis, siqoid delinqnitor. Cicero, ' 

* Sed prscedenti spectator mantioa tergo. Per» Sat, 4. 
Non videmus id manticse qnod in tergo est. Catul, Carm, 22. 

Nostram peram non videntes, alioram (jaxta Persiom) 
inantioam consideramus. J>« Hierw, Epis, 91* j 



116 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

But self-knowledge now helps us to turn this 
wallet, and place that which hath our own faults 
before our eyes^ and that which hath in it those 
of others behind our back. A very necessary 
regulation this, if we would behold our own 
faults in the same light in which they do. For 
we must not expect that others will be as blind 
to our foibles as we ourselves are : they will carry 
them before their eyes, whether we do or ho. 
And to imagine that the world takes no notice 
of them, because we do not, is just as wise as to 
fancy that others do not see us because we shut 
our eyes. 



CHAP. V. 

MODERATION THE EFFECT OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

6. Another genuine offspring of self-know- 
ledge is moderation. 

This indeedoanTiardly be conceived to be se- 
parate from that of meekness and charity before- 
mentioned; but I choose to give it a distinct 
mention, because I consider it under a different 
view and operation, viz. as that which guards 
and influences our spirits in all matters of debate 
and controversy. 

Moderation is a great and important christian 
virtue, very different from that bad quality of 
the mind under which it is offcen misrepresented 
and disguised, viz. lukewarmness and indifference 
about the truth. The former is very consistent 
with a regular and well corrected zeal ; . the latter 
consists in the total wai^t of it: the former is 



OP SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 117 

sensible of, s^id endeavours with peace and pru- 
dence to maintain the dignity and importance of 
divine doctrines; the latter hath no manner of 
concern about them : the one feels the secret in- 
fluences of them ; the other is quite a stranger 
to their power and efficacy : the one laments in 
secret the sad decay of vital religion ; the other 
is an instance of it. In short, the one proceeds 
from true knowledge; the other from great ig- 
norance: the one is a good mark of sincerity, 
and the other a certain sign of hypocrisy. And 
to confound two things together, which are so 
essentially different, can be the effect of nothing 
but great ignorance, inconsideration, or an over- 
heated injudicious zeal. 

A self-knowing man can easily distinguish be- 
tween these two. And the knowledge which he 
has of human nature in general, from a thorough 
contemplation of his own in particular, shows 
him the necessity of preserving a medium (as in 
every thing else, so especially) between the two 
extremes of a bigoted zeal on the one hand, and 
indolent lukewaimness on the other. As he will 
not look upon every thing to be worth contending 
for, so he will look upon nothing worth losing 
his temper for in the contention. Because, though 
the truth be of ever so great importance, nothing 
can do a greater disservice to it, or make a man 
more incapable of defending it, than intemperate 
heat and passion; whereby he injures and be- 
trays the cause he is over anxious to maintain. 
The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness 
ofGod\ 

^ James, L 20. 



118 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

Self-knowledge heals our animosities, and 
greatly cools our debates about matters of dark 
and doubtful speculation. One who knows him- 
self sets too great a value upon his time and 
temper^ to plunge rashly into those vain and 
fruitless controversies, in which one of them is 
sure to be lost, and the other in great danger of 
being so ; e^cially when a man of bad temper 
and bad principles is the opponent; who aims 
rather to silence his adversary with overbearing 
confidence, dark unmeaning language, authorir 
tative airs, and hard words, than convince him 
with solid argument; and who plainly contends 
not for truth but victory. Little good can be 
done to the best cause in such a circumstance : 
and a wise and moderate man, who knows human 
nature, and knows himself, will rather give his 
antagonist the pleasure of an imaginary triumph, 
than engage in so unequal a combat. 

An eagerness and zeal for dispute, on every 
subject, and with every one, shows great self- 
sufficiency ; that never failing sign of great self- 
ignorance: and true moderation, which creates 
an indifference to little things, and a wise and 
well proportioned zeal for things of importance, 
can proceed from nothing but true knowledge, 
which has its foundation in self-acquaintance. 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 119 

CHAP. VI. 

SELF-SNOIYLEDGE IMPROVES THE JUDGMENT. 

6. Another great advantage of being well ac- 
quainted with ourselves is, that it helps us to^ 
fprm a better j udgment of other things . i 

i^lf-knowl^dg'(S ind^t^d does not enlarge or in- 
crease our natural capacities, but it guides an4 
regulates them; leads us to the right use and 
application of them ; and removes a great many 
things which obstruct their due exercise ; as pride, 
prejudice, passion, &c. which oftentimes so mi- 
serably pervert the rational powers. 

He that hath taken a just measure of himself 
is thereby better able to judge of other things. 

(1.) He knows how to judge of n\en and hu- 
man nature better ': — for human nature, setting 
aside the difference of natural genius, and the 
improTements of education and religion, is pr^ty 
much the same in all. There are the same pas- 
sions and appetites, the same natural infirmities 
and inclinations in all mankind; though some 
aiB more predominant and distinguishable in some 
than they are in others. So that, if a man be but' 
wdl acquainted with his own, this, together with 
a very little observation on human life, will soon 
discover to him those of other men; and show 
him very impartially their particular failings and 
excellences, and hdp him to form a much truer 
sentiment of them than if he were to judge only 
by their exterior, the appearance they make in 
the eye of the world, or the character given of 
them by others : both which are often very fal- 
lacious. 



120 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

1(2.) Self-knowledge will teach us to judge 
rightly of facts as well as men. It will exhibit 
things to the mind in a proper light, and true 
colours, without those false glosses and appear- 
ances which fancy throws upon them, or in which 
the imagination often paints them. It will teach 
us to judge not with the imagination, but with 
the understanding; and will set a guard upon 
the former, which so often represents things in 
wrong views, and gives the mind false impres- 
sions. . See Part I. Chap, IV. 

1(3.) It helps us to estimate the true value of 
all worldly good things. It rectifies our notions 
of them, and lessens that enormous esteem we 
are apt to have for them. For when a man 
knows himself, and his true interests, he will see 
how far, and in what degree, these things are 
suitable to him, and subservient to his good; 
and how far they are unsuitable, insnaring, and 
pernicious. This, and not the common opinion 
of the world, will be his i*ule of judgment con- 
cerning them. By this he will see quite through 
them ; see what they really are at bottom ; and 
how far a wise man ought to desire them. The 
reason why men value them so extravagantly is, 
because they take but a superficial view of them, 
and only look upon their outside, where they 
are most showy and inviting. Were they to look 
within them, consider their intrinsic worth, their 
ordinary effects, their tendency, and their end, 
they would not be so apt to overvalue them. 

\ And a man that has learned to see through him- 

l self, can easily see through these ^. 



i^ 



* Abstrabunt a recto divitiae, bonores, potentia, et cetera 
; quae opinione nostra chara sunt, precio sno vilia. NeHoimiu 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 12t 



CHAP. VII. 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE DIRECTS TO THE PROPER EXERCISE OF 

SELF-DENIAL, 

7. A MAN that knows himself best, k nows how 
and wherein he ought to deny himself . 

The great duty of self-denial, which our Saviour 
so expressly requires of all his followers, (plain 
and necessary as it is) has been much mistaken 
and abused ; and that not only by the church of 
Rome, in their doctrines of penance, fasts, and 
pilgrimages, but by some protestant Christians, 
in the instances of voluntary abstinence and un- 
necessary austerities : whence they are sometimes 
apt to be too censorious against those who in- 
dulge themselves in the use of those indifferent 
things, which they make it a point of conscience 
to abstain from. Whereas, would they confine 
their exercise of self-denial to the plain and im- 
portant points of christian practice, devoutly per- 
forming the necessary duties they are most averse 
to, and resolutely avoiding the known sins they 

estlmare res ; de quibos, non cnm fama sed cam reraiii Da- 
tura, deliberandam est. Nihil habent ista magnificam, quo 
meDtes in se nostras .trahant, praeter hoc qnod mirari ilia con- 
SQevimns. Non, edim quia concapiscenda sunt, laudantar, 
sed concapiscantar quia laudata sno L^e^^ ^"f • Q^*~ ~ Riches 
honours, power, and the like, which owe all their worth to oar 
false opinions of them, are too apt to draw the heart from 
virtae. We know not how to prize them ; they are not to be 
judged of by the common TOgae, bat by their own nature. 
They have nothing to attract our esteem, but that we are used 
to admire them ; tiiey are not cried up because they are things 
that ought to be desired, but they are desired because they 
are generally cried up. 

G 






122 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

are most inclined to, under the direction of scrip- 
ture, they would soon become more solid, judi- 
cious, and exemplary Christians ; and did they 
know themselves, they would easily see that 
herein there is occasion and scope enough for 
self-denial ; and that to a degree of greater se- 
verity and difficulty than there is in those little 
corporal abstinences and mcniifications they en- 
join themselves. 

(1.) Self-knowledge will direct us to the ne- 
cessary exercises of self-denial, with regard to 
the duties our tempers are most averse to. 

There is no one but, at some times, finds a 
great backwardness and indisposition to some 
duties which he knows to be seasonable and ne- 
cessary. This then is a proper occasion for self- 
discipUne. For to indulge this indisposition is 
very dangerous, and leads to an habitual neglect 
of known duty ; and to resist and oppose it, and 
to prepare for a diligent and faithfid discharge 
of tiie duty, notwithstanding the many pleas and 
excuses that carnal disppsition may urge for the 
neglect of it, this requires no small pains and 
self-denial; and yet it is very necessary to the 
peace of conscience. 

As for our encouragement to this piece of self- 
denial, we need only remember tliat the difficulty 
of the duty, and our unfitness for it, will, upon 
the trial, be found to be much less than we ap- 
prehended. And the pleasure of reflecting, that 
we have discharged our consciences, and given 
a fresh testimony of our uprightness, will more 
than compensate the pains and difficulty we found 
therein. And the oftener these criminal propen- 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 123 

sions to the wilful neglect of duty are opposed ,| 
and conquered, the seldomer will they retaim, or l 
the weaker will they grow: till at last, by divine I 
grace, they will be wholly overcome ; and in the 
room of them will succeed an habitual readinen 
to every goad work^, and a very sensible delight 
therein: a much happier effect than can be ex- 
pected from the severest exercises of self-denial, 
in the instances before mentioned. 

(2.) A man that knows himself will see an 
equal necessity for self-denial, in order to check 
and control his inclinations to sinful actions ; to 
subdue the rebel within; to resist the solicita- | 
tions of sense and appetite; to summon all his 
wisdom to avoid the occasions and temptations 
to sin, and all his strength to oppose it. 

All this (especially if it be a favourite consti- t 
tutional iniquity) will cost a man pains and mor- { 
tification enough. For instance, the subduing a 
violent passion, or taming a sensual inclination, or 
forgiving an apparent injury and afiront. It is evi- 
dent, such a self-conquest can never be attained 
without much self-knowledge and self-denial. ' 

And that self-denial that is exercised this way, 
as it will be a better evidence of oiu: sincerity, so 
it will be more helpful and ornamental to the in- 
terests of religion than the greatest zeal in those 
particular duties which are most suitable to our 
natural tempers, or than the greatest austerities 
in some particular instances of mortification, 
which are not so necessary, and perhaps not so 
difficult or disagreeable to us as this. 

To what amazing heights of piety may some 

» Tit, iii. 1. 

g2 



124 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

be thought to mount (raised on the- wings of 8 
flaming zeal, and distinguished by uncommon 
preciseness and severity about little things) who 
all the while, perhaps, cannot govern one pas- 
sion, and appear yet ignorant of and slaves to 
their darling iniquity !. Through an ignorance 
of themselves, they misapply their zeal, and 
misplace their self-denial; and by that means 
blemish their characters with a visible incon- 
sistency^. 



CHAP. VIII. 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE PROMOTES OUR USEFULNESS IN THE 

WORLD. 

8. The more we know of ourselves, flie more 
useful we are like to be in those stations of life 
m which Providence has fixed us. 

When we know our proper talents and capa- 
cities, we know in what manner we are capable 
of being useful; and the consideration of our 
characters and relations in life will direct us to 

' A pions zeal may be actiye and jet not pernicious, and 
shine without burning. Intemperate zeal is like Sirios in 
Homer. 

Aafiirporaroi; fikv '6y* t^i, koxov dk re ffrjfia t£tvktcu 

Kai re 06pei ttoXKSv irvptrov deiXolcri ppoTolfff 

lUe quidem dara, sed sseva luce coruscat, 

E Morbos aestusque adfert mortalibus aegris. //. x. 30. 

Pious zeal is like the gentle flame in Virgil. 

Ecce levis subito de vertice visus luli 
Fundere lumen apex, tractuqne innoxia mollis 
Lambere flamma comas, et circum tempora pasci. ^n. II. 

Jortin'sDuc,p,Zl, 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 126 

the proper application of those talents ; show us 
to what ends they were given us, and to what 
purposes ttiey ought to be improved. 

" Many of those who set up for wits, and pre- 
tend to a more than ordinary sagacity and deli- 
cacy of sense, do, notwithstanding, spend their 
time unaccountably ; and live away whole days, 
weeks, and sometimes months together, to as 
little purpose (though it may be not so inno- 
cently) as if they had been asleep all the while. 
— But if their parts be so good as they would 
have others believe, sure they are worth improv- 
ing; if not, they have the more need of it. — 
Greatness of parts is so far from being a dis- 
charge from industry, that I find men of the 
most exquisite sense in all ages were always 
most curious of their time. And therefore I 
very much suspect the excellency of those men's 
parts, who are dissolute and careless misspenders 
of it ^" 

It is a sad thing to observe, how miserably 
some men debase and prostitute their capacities. 
Those gifts and indulgencies of nature, by which 
they outshine many others, and by which they are 
capable of doing real service to the cause of virtue 
and religion, and of being eminently useful to 
mankind, they either entirely neglect, or shame- 
fully abuse, to the dishonour of God, and the pre- 
judice of their fellow creatures, by encouraging 
and emboldening them in the ways of vice and 
vanity ; for the false glare of a profane wit will 
sometimes make such strong impressions on a 
weak, unsettled mind, as to overbear the princi- 

» Norri8*t Misc. p. 120. 



126 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

pies of reason and wisdom, and give it too fa- 
Tourahle sentiments of what it befcMre abhorred : 
whereas the same force and sprightliness of ge- 
nius would have been very happily and usefully 
empV>yed in pultkig sin out of countenance, and 
in rallying the follies, and exposing the inconsis- 
tencies of a vicious and profligate character. 

The more talents and abiUljes men are blessed 
with, the more pains they ought to take. — ^This 
ia Chrysostom's observation. And the reason is 
obvious ; because they have more to answer for 
than other men; which I take to be a better 
reason than what is assigned by this father, viz. 
because they have more to lose ^. 

When a man once knows where his strength 
hes, wherein he excels, or is capable of excelling, 
how far his influence extends, and in what sta- 
tion of life Providence hath fixed him, and the 
duties of that station, he then knows what talents 
he ought to cultivate, in what manner, and to 
what objects they are to be chiefly directed and 
applied, in order to shine in that station, and be 
« useful in it. This Mdll keep him even and steady 
in his pursuits and views ; consistent with him- 
self, uniform in his conduct, and useful to man- 
kind ; and will prevent his shooting at a wrong 
mark, or missing the right one he aims at : as 
thousands do, for want of this necessary branch 
of self-knowledge. — See Part L Chap, V, 

' ^Qre ToiQ ffwfMTBpoig fiaKXov ^ role afiaOevipotigf 
fiuZuiv d TTOvoQ dvdk yap Hirsp rdv abfStv ri Zriiita, 
dfjuXovai rovTOiQ KOuctivoQ, De Sacerd. U t. c. 5. 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 127 



CHAP. IX. 



SELF-KNOWLEDGE LEADS TO A DECORUM AND CONSISTENCY 

OF CHARACTER. 



9. A MAN that knows hunselfy knows^how^to I 
ac t with discr e tioj^ and dignity in every station | 
and ctaracter.' ' 

Aknost all the ridicule we see in the world 
takes its rise from self-ignorance; and to this 
mankind, by common assent, ascribe it, when 
they say of a person that acts out of character, 
he does not know himself. Affectation is the 
spring of all ridicule, and self-ignorance the true 
source of a£fectation. A man that does not know 
his proper character, nor what becomes it, cannot 
act suitably to it. He will often affect a charac- 
ter that does not belong to him, and will either 
act above or beneath himself; which will make 
him equally contemptible in the eyes of them that 
know him ^. 

A man of superior rank and character, that 
knows himself, knows that he is but a man; 
subject to the same sicknesses, frailties, disap- 
pointments, pains, passions, and sorrows, as 
other men ; that true honour lies in those things, 
in which it is possible for the meanest peasant to 
excel him ; and therefore he will not be vainly 
arrogant. He knows that they are only transi*- 



' Omnique in re posse quod deceat facere, artis et natoree \ 
quid, qnandoqae deceat, prndentie. Cic, de Orat, 
/. 3. §. 55. 



est ; seire, qwd, qnandoqae deceat, prndentie. Cic, de Orat, i 



%2Q THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

I tory and accidental things that set him above 
the rest of mankind ; that he will soon be upon a 
level with them ; and therefore learns to conde- 
scend: and there is adignity in this condescen- 
sion ; it does not sink^ but exalt^ his reputation 

I and character. 

A man of inferior rank, that knows himself, 
knows how to be content, quiet, and thankful, in 
his lower sphere. As he has not an extravagant 
veneration and esteem for those external things 
which raise one man's circumstances so much 
above another's, so he does not look upon him- 
self as the worse or less valuable man, purely 
because he has them not; much less does he 
envy them that have them. As he has not their 
advantages, so neither has he their temptations ; 
he is in that state of life which the great Arbiter 
and Disposer of all things hath allotted him; 
and he is satisfied : but as a deference is owing 
to external superiority, he knows how to pay a 
proper respect to tiiose that are above him, with- 
out that abject and servile cringing, which dis- 
covers an inordinate esteem for their condition. 
As he does not over esteem them for those little 
accidental advantages in which they excel him, 
so neither does he overvalue himself for those 
things in which he excels others. 

Were hearers to know themselves, they would 

not take upon them to dictate to their preachers, 

or teach their ministers how to teach them (which, 

. as St. Austin observes ^, is the same thing as if 

^ Norit medicos quid salatifernm, qnidve contrarium petal 
.aegrotos. ^groti estis, oolite ergo dictare qose Yobia medt* 
caoiiDa yelit oppooere. 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 129 

a patient, when he sends for a physician, should 
prescribe to him what he would have him pre- 
scribe) ; but, if they happen to hear something 
not quite agreeable to Uieir former sentiment, 
would betake themselves more diligently to the 
study of their Bibles, to know whether those 
things were so^. 

And were ministers to know themselves, they 
would know the nature and duty of their office, 
and the wants and infirmities of their hearers, 
better than to domineer over their faith, or shoot 
over their heads, and seek their own popularity 
rather than their benefit. They would be more 
solicitous for tlieir edification than their appro- 
bation (the most palatable food is not always 
the most wholesome) ; and, like a faithful phy- 
sician, would earnestly intend and endeavour 
their good, though it be in a way they may not 
like ; and rather risk their own characters with 
weak and captious men than withhold any thing 
that is needful for them, or be unfaithful to God 
and their own consciences. Patients must not 
expect to be always pleased, nor physicians to 
be always applauded. 

^ Acts, xvii. 11. 



G 3 



I 



130 THB GREAT ADVANTAGES 

CHAP. X. 

PIETY THE EFFECT OF SELF-KNOl/VLEDGE. 

10. Self-knowledge tends greatly to culti- 
vate a spirit of trueoietv^ 

Ignorance is so lar from being the mother of 
devotion, that nothing is more destructive of it: 
andy of all ignorance, none is a greater bane to 
it than self-ignorance. This indeed is very con- 
sistent with superstition, bigotry, and enthusiasm, 
those common counterfeits of piety, which by 
weak and credulous minds are often mistaken 
for it. But true piety and real devotion can only 
spring from a just knowledge of God and our- 
selves ; and the relation we stand in to him, and 
the dependence we have upon him. For when 
we consider ourselves as the creatures of God, 
whom he made for his honour, and as creatures 
incapable of any happiness but what results from 
his favour; and as entirely and continually de- 
pendent upon him for every thing we have and 
hope for ; and whilst we bear this thought in our 
minds, what can induce or prompt us more to 
love, and fear, and trust him as our God, our 
Father, and all-sufficient Friend and Helper? 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. Idl 



CHAP. XI. 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE TEACHES US RIGHTLY TO PERFORM THE 

DIPTIES OF REUGION. 

11. Self-knowledge will be a good help and 
direction to us in many of our devout and Chris- 
tian exercis es ; particularly, 

(1.) In ihe duty of prayer; both as to the 
matter and mode ^. — He that rightly knows him- 
self, will be very sensible of his spiritual wants ; 
and he that is well acquainted with his spiritual 
wants, will not be at a loss what to pray for. 
" Our hearts would be the best prayer-books, if 
we were skilful in reading them. Why do men 
pray, and call for prayers when they come to die^ 
but that they begin a little better to know them- 
selves ? and were they now but to hear the voice 
of God and conscience, they would not remain 
speechless. But ihey that are bom deaf are 
always dumb ^." 

Again, Self-knowledge will teach us to pray, 
not only with fluency, but fervency ; will help us 
to keep Ihe heart, as well as order our speech, 
before God; and so promote the grace as well 
as gift of prayer. Did we but seriously con- 
sider what we are, and what we are about; 
whom we pray to, and what we pray for, it is 
impossible we should be so dead, spiritless, and 
formal in this duty, as we too often are. The 

* Ille Deo yeram orationem exhibet qui gemetipsnm cog- 
noscit. Greg, 

9 Baxter, 



132 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 

very thought would mspire us with life, and faith, 
and fervour. 

(2.) Self-knowledge will be very helpful to us 
in the duty of thanksgiving, as it shows us both 
how suitable and how seasonable the mercies are 
which we receive. A Christian that keeps up an 
intelligence with himself, considers what he hath 
as well as what he wants ; and is no less sensi- 
ble of the value of his mercies than Ms unwor- 
thiness of them: and this is what makes him 
thankful. For this reason it is, that one Chris- 
tian's heart even melts with gratitude for those 
very mercies which others disesteem and depre- 
ciate; and perhaps despise, because they have 
not what they think greater. But a man that 
knows himself, knows that he deserves nothing, 
and therefore is thankful for every thing; for 
thankfulness as necessarily flows from humility 
as humility does from self-acquaintance. 

(3.) In the duties of reading and hearing the 
word of God. Self-knowledge is of excellent use 
to enable us to understand and apply that which 
we read or hear. Did we understand our hearts 
better we should understand the word of God 
better; for that speaks to the heart. A man 
that is acquainted with his own heart, presently 
sees how deeply the divine word penetrates and 
explores, searches and lays open its most inward 
parts ; he feels what he reads ; and finds that a 
quickening spirit, which to a self-ignorant man 
is but a dead letter. 

Moreover, this self-acquaintance teaches a 
man to apply what he reads and hears of the 
word of God. He sees the pertinence, con- 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 133 

gruity, and suitableness of it to his own case ; 
and lays it up faithfully in the storeroom of hia 
mindy to be digested and approved by his after- 
thoughts. And it is by this art of applying 
Scripture, and urging the most suitable instruc- 
tions and admonitions of it home upon our con- 
sciences, that we receive the greatest benefit 
by it. 

(4.) Nothing is of more eminent service in the 
great duty of meditation ; especially in that part 
of it which consists in heart converse. A man 
who is unacquainted with himself, is as unfit to 
converse with his heart as he is with a stranger 
he never saw, and whose taste and temper he is 
altogether unacquainted with. He knows not 
how to get his thoughts about him : and when 
he has, he knows not how to range and fix them ; 
and hath no more the command of them than a 
general has of a wild undisciplined army, that 
has nev^r been exercised, or accustomed to obe- 
dience and order. But one, who hath made it 
the study of his life to be acquainted with him- 
self, is soon disposed to enter into a free and 
familiar converse with his own heart; and in 
such a self-conference improves more in true 
wisdom, and acquires more useful and substan- 
tial knowledge dian he could do from the most 
polite and refined conversation in the world. — 
Of such excellent use is Self-knowledge in all 
the duties of devotion and piety. 



134 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES 



CHAP. XII. 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE THE BEST PREPARATION FOR DEATH. 

12. Self-knowledge will be an habitaal pre- 
paration for death , and a constant guarci against 
me surprise of it, because it fixes and settles our 
hopes of future happiness. That which makes 
the thoughts of death so terrifying to the soul» is 
its utter uncertainty what will become of it after 
death. Were this uncertainty to be removed, a 
thousand things would reconcile us to the thoughts 
of dying ^. 

" Distnut and darkness of a fatore state. 

Is that which makes mankind to dread their fate : 

Dying is nothing ; bat 'tis this we fear. 

To be vre know not what, — ^we know not where." 

Now Self-knowledge, in a good degree, dis- 
sipates this gloom, and removes this dreadAil 
doubt ; for, as the word of God hath revealed the 
certainty of a future state of happiness, which 
the good man shall enter upon after death, and 



* Ilia qnoqne res morti bos alienat, quod haec jam novi- 
mus, ilia ad quae transitori snmns, nescimas qoalia sint. £t 
horremns ignota. Natoralis preeterea tenebramm metns est, 
in qnas addnctnra mors creditor. Sen, Epist* 83. It is this 
makes us averse to death, that it translates as to objects we 
are anacqaainted with ; and we tremble at the thoaghts of 
those things that are unknown to as. We are naturally afraid 
of being in the dark ; and death is a leap in the dark. 



OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 135 

plainly described the requisite qualifications for 
it ; when by a long and laborious self-acquaint* 
ance^ he comes distinctly to discern those quali- 
iications in himself, his hopes of heaven soon 
raise him above the fears oiP death: and though 
he may not be able to form any clear or distinct 
conception of the nature of that happiness, yet 
m general he is assured that it will be a most 
exquisite and extensive one, and will contain in 
it every thing necessary to make it complete; 
because it will come inmiediately from God him- 
self*: whereas they who know not what they 
are, must necessarily be ignorant what they shall 



^ " When we saj that the state of the other worid is ud- 
known, the only meaning of it is, that it is a state of such hap- 
piness, so far heyond any thing we erer yet experienced, that 
we cannot form any notion or idea of it : we know that there 
is such a happiness ', we know in some measure wherein this 
happiness consists ; yiz. in seeing God and the blessed Jesns, 
who loyed us, and gave himself for us ; in praising our Creator 
and Redeemer ; in conversing with saints and angels. Bat 
how great, how ravishing and transporting a pleasure this is, 
we cannot tell, because we never yet felt it. — Now methinks 
this should not make the thoughts of death uneasy to us, 
should not make us unwilling to go to heaven ; that the hap- 
piness of heaven is loo great for us to know or to conceive in 
this world. For men are naturally fond of unknown and un- 
tried pleasures ; which is so far from being a disparagement 
to them, that it raises our expectations of l^em, that they are 
unknown. In the things of this world, enjoyment usually 
lessens our esteem and value for them, and we always value 
that most which we have never tried ; and methinks the hap- 
piness of the other world should not be the only thing we de- 
spise before we try it. — It is some encouragement to us that 
the happiness of heaven is too big to be known in this world ; 
for did we perfectly know it now, it could not be very great." 
Sherlock on Death, p. 71, 72. 



136 THE GREAT ADVANTAGES, ETC. 

be. A man that is all darkness within can have 
but a dark prospect forward ^. 

O, what would we not give for solid hope in 
death! — Reader, wouldst thou have it, know 
God, and know thyself. 

^ Illi mors gravis incabat, 
Qai, notus Dimis omnibas, 
Ignotas moritqr sibL Sen, Tha, 7Ayw. 

Who, exposed to other's eyes. 
Into his own heart never pries. 
Death's to him a strange surprise. 



PAHT m. 





k«.«. 



J£ ^wi 



TREATISE 

OF 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE 



PART THIRD. 



SHOWING HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE IS TO BE ATTAINED. 

From what hath been said under the two former 
parts of the subject, self-knowledge appears to 
be in itself so excellent, and in its effects so ex- 
tensively useful and conducive to the happiness 
of human kind, that nothing need further be 
added, by way of motive or inducement, to ex- * . 
cite us to make it the great objec t of our study / V^ 
and pursuit. If wSTegard our present peace, i 
satisfaction, and usefulness, or our future and 
everlasting interests, we shall certainly value and 
prosecute this knowledge above all others; as 
what will be most ornamental to our characters, 
and beneficial to our interest in every state of 
life, and abundantly recompense all our labour. 

Were there need of any further motives to ex- 
cite us to this, I might lay open the many dread* 
ful effects of self-ignorance, and show how plainly 
it appears to be the original spring of all the 
follies and incongruities we see in the characters 



> 



138 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

of men, and of most of the mortifications and mi- 
series they meet with here. This would soon ap- 
pear by only mentioning the reverse of those 
advantages before specified, which result from 
self-knowledge. For what is it, but a want of 
self-knowledge and self-government, that makes 
us so unsettled and volatile in our dispositions? 
so subject to transport and excess of passions in 
the varying scenes of life ? so rash and unguarded 
in our conduct? so vain and self-sufficient? so 
censorious and malignant? so eager and confi- 
dent? so little useful in the world, in comparison 
I of what we might be ? so inconsistent with our- 
selves? so mistaken in our notions of true re- 
ligion? so generally indisposed to, or unengaged 
in the holy duties of it? and finally, so unfit for 
death, and so afraid of dying? — I say, to what 
is all this owing, but self-ignorance? the first and 
fruitful source of all this long train of evils : — 
and indeed there is scarce any but what may be 
traced up to it. In short, it brutifies man to be 
ignorant of himself. Man that is in honour, and 
vnderstandeth not (himself especially), is as th€ 
beasts that perish^. 

*' Come home then, O my wandering, self-neg" 
lecting soul ; lose not thyself in a wilderness or 
tumult of impertinent, vain, distractmg things. 
Thy work is nearer thee; the country thou 
shouldst first survey and travel is within thee; 
from which thou must pass to that above thee ; 
when by losing thyself in this without thee, thou 
wilt find thyself before thou art aware in that be- 
low thee. — Let the eyes of fools be in the cor- 

» Psal. klUx. 20. 






IS TO BE ATTAINED. 139 

oers of the earth; leave it to m&i beside them* 
selves, to liye as without themselves; do thou 
keep atiieiaB md Wind thine own business. Sur- 
TBf thyself^ tiiine own make and nature, and thou 
wflt &idL {nil employ for all thy most active 
thoughts^. But dost thou delight in the myste- 
ries of nature? Consider well the mystery of thy 
own. The compendium of all thou studiest is 
near thee, ev&i within thee; thyself being the 
epitome of the world ^. — If either necessity or 
duty, nature or grace, reason or faith, internal 
inducements, external impulses, or eternal mo- 
tives, might determine the subject of thy study 
and contemplation, thou wouldst call home thy 

' Mirantur aliqui altitadines moDtiam, ingentes flactas 
maris, altissunos lapsas flaminom, et oceani ambitmn, et 
gyros syderem, et relinqaant seipsos, nee mirantnr, saith 
S unt Aagqstin, — Some men admire the heights of mountains, 
il% nage UfUV^ of the sea, the steep falls of riyers, the com- 
pass of the ocean, and the circuit of the stars, and pass by 
themselyes without admiration. 

® Ttc «v a^uitg ^avfia<reu ttiv EvyEVfiav tbtb ts ^coh r» \ 
awdeotn'og tv tavrut ra ^vrira roig aOavaroic, km ra Xo- 
yuea ro»c aXoyoig (TvvarrovTOQy th ^spovTog tv rri Kaff 
tavrov 0v<T€t rrig iraarig KTiffnas rriv tucova, dia icai fiiKpoQ ' 
Kocruoff iiprirai, tb riaavTrig tjKuiiievH wapa ra GcaV^io- ' 
~Pouigy h ov iravra kcu ra vvvj xai ra jitSXovra* Si ov o 
Qeog avOpiawog ytyovt, y<tmy de N<a. Horn, cap, 1. page 34. 
Who can sufficiently admire the noble na^ro of that creature 
man, who hath in him the mortal and the immortal, the ra* 
tional and irrational natures united, and so carries about with 
him the image of the whole creation; whence he is called 
Microcosm, or the little world ; for whose sake (so highly is 
he honoured by God) all things are made, both present and 
future ; nay, for whose sake God himself became man ! — Sa 
that it was not unjustly said by GrMnr^ N«g««nft^ th at niM i 
was the Macrocosm, and the world WithouTtEenSIicrocosmr^ 



140 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

distracted thoughts, and employ them more on 
thyself and thy God*/' 

Now then let us resoWe, that henceforth the 
>< I study of ourselves shall be thebusinesgj2L.£iir 
lives; that, by the blessing ot* irod, we may 
arrive at such a degree of self-knowledge, as 
may secure to us the excellent benefits before- 
mentioned. To which end we should do well 
to attend diligently to the rules laid down in the 
following chapters: 



CHAP. I. 

SELF-EXAMINATION NECESSARY TO SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

1. The first thing necessary to self-ktiowledge 
is se lf-ii 

'e must often look into our hearts if we would 
know them. They are very deceitful ; more so 
than we can imagine, till we have searched and 
tried, and watched them well. We may meet 
with frauds and faithless dealings from men; 
but, after all, our own hearts are the greatest 
cheats; and there are none we are in greater 
danger from than ourselves. We must first 
suspect ourselves, then examine ourselves, then 
watch ourselves, if we expect ever to know our- 
selves. How is it possible there should be auy 
self-acquaintance without self-converse ? 

Were a man to accustom himself to such self- 
employment, he need not live till thirty before he 

* Baxter'' » Mischief of Self' Ignorance, 



!K U^:>^r.Mt 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 141 

suspects himself a fool, or till forty before he 
knows it ^. 

Men could never be so bad as they are, if they 
did but take a proper care and scope in this bu- 
siness of self-examination^; if they did but look 
backwards to what they were, inwards to what 
they are, and forwards to what they shall be. 

And as this is the first and most necessary step 
to self-acquaintance, it may not be amiss to be a 
little more particular in it. Therefore, 

(1.) This business of self-scrutiny must be 
periformed with great care and diligence, other- 
wise our hearts will deceive us, even whilst we 
are examming them. ** TV hen we set ourselves 
to think, some trifle or other presently intemipts 
and draws us off from any profitable recollection * 
Nay we ourselves fly out, and are glad to be di* 
verted from a severe examination into our own 
state; which is sure, if diligently pursued, to 
present us with objects of shame and sorrow, 
which will wound our sight, and soon make us 
weary of this necessary work^." 

Do not let us flatter ourselves then that this is 
a mighty easy business. Much pains and care 
are necessary sometimes to keep tiie mind intent, 
and more to keep it impartial; and the«difficulty 
of it is the reason that so many are averse to it, 
and care not to descend into themselves^. 



^ See the Complaint^ or Night Thoughts, part i. page 28. 

' Hoo DOS pessimos facit, qnod nemo vitam s nam respicit . \ 
Qood factari slmas, cogilamus, et id rtUfdi ^lllA fboerimn^, / 
non cogitamas. Sen, Epist, 84. 

^ Stanhope* 8 Thomas h Kempis, page 166. 

^ Ut nemo in sese tentat desoendere ! Pers, Sat. 4. 



I 



142 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

Reader, try the expenment: retire now into 
thyself, and see if thou canst not strike out some 
light within, by closely urging such questions as 
these — " What am I? Por what was I made? 
And to what ends have I been preserved so long, 
by the favour of my Maker? Do I remember, or 
forget those ends? Have I answered or perverted 
them? — ^What have I been doing since I came 
into the world ? What is the world or myself the 
better for my Uving so many years in it? — ^What 
is my allowed course of actions ? Am I sure it 
will bear the future test? — ^Am I now in that 
state I shall wish to die in ? And, O my soul, 
think, and think again what it is to die. — Do not 
put that most awful event far from thee; nor pass 
it by with a superficial thought. Canst thou be 
too well fortified against the terrors of that day? 
And lurt thou sure that the props which suppmt 
thee now will not fail thee then? — ^What hopes 
hast thou for eternity? Hast thou indeed that 
godly temper, which alone can fit thee for the 
enjoyment of God ? — ^Which world art thou most 
concerned for? What things do most deeply af- 
fect thee? — O my soul, remember thy dignity; 
think how soon the scene will shift. Why shouldst 
thou forget that thou art immortal?" 

(2.) This self-excitation and scrutiny must be 
frequently made. — ^They who have a great deal of 
important business on their hands should often 
look over their accounts, and frequently adjust 
them, lest they should be going backwards, and 
not know it : and custom will soon take off the 
difficulty of this duty, and make it delightful. 

In our morning retreat, it will be proper to re- 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 143 

member, that we cannot piesenre throughout the 
day that cahn and even temper we may then be 
in : that we shall very probably meet with some 
things to ruffle us ; some attack on our weak side : 
place a guard there now. Or, however, if no in- 
cidents happen to discompose us, our tempers 
will vary; our thoughts will flow pretty much 
with our blood ; and the dispositions of the mind 
be a good deal governed by the motions of the 
animal spirits ; our souls will be serene or cloudy, 
our tempers volatile or phlegmatic, and our incU- 
nations sober or irregular, according to the brisk- 
ness or sluggishness of the circulation of the ani- 
mal fluids, whatever may be the^natural and im- 
mediate cause of that; and therefore we must 
resolve to avoid all occasions that may raise any 
dangerous ferments there; which, when once 
raised, will excite in us very different thoughts 
and dispositions from those we now have ; which, 
together with the force of a fair opportunity and 
urgent temptation, may overset our reason and 
resolution, and betray us into those sinful indul- 
gences which will wound the conscience, stain 
the soul, and create bitter remorse in our cooler 
reflections. Pious thoughts and purposes in the 
morning will set a guard upon the soul, and for- 
tify it under all the temptations of the day. 

But such self-inspection, however, should not 
fail to make part of our evening devotions; when 
we should review and examine the several actions 
of the day, the various tempers and dispositions 
we have been in, and the occasions that excited 
them. It is an advice worthy of a Christian, i 
thpugh it first dropped from a heathen pen : that f 



144 



HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 



before we betake ourselves to rest, we review 
and examine all the passages of the day> that we 
may have the comfort of what we have done 
aright, and may redress what we find to have 
been amiss ; and make the shipwrecks of one day 
be as marks to direct our course on another. — ^A 
practice that hath been recommended by many of 
the heathen moralists of the greatest name; as 
P lutarc h, Emctetus, M arcus Antoninu s ; and par* 
ticulafly PytEago'ras, in tlie verses ihat go under 
his name, and are called his Golden Verses; 
wherein he advises his scholadt ^VUf^ night ia 
recollect the passages of the day, and ask them- 
selves these questions : ** Wherein have I transr 
gressed this day? What have I done? What 
duty have I omitted?'' &c.^. Seneca recom- 
mends the same practice. " Sectius, saith he, 
" did this ; at the close of the day, before he 
betook himself to rest, he addressed his soul in 
the following manner : ' What evil of thine hast 

* Mij^* vrrvov ficLKaKoitnv ew' o/i/iacri TrpoadE^atTOat, 
Upiv rwv ijntpivitiv epyiov rpig tKarov eire\9eiv 
Uti 7rap«j3i)v ; ri 5* eps^a; re fioi Seov bk ersXiffOri ; 
Ap^afievog S" otto Trpwra, ewsKiOi kcu utrairnra, 
ActXa iir)v tKirpti^ag, emTrXriffto* XPV^^ ^« TspTra. 
Tavra irovih ravr iKneXtra' rsTiav xpi ^pav vv 

Vid. Pythag, Aur, Carm, apud Poet, Minor* p, 420< 

Let Dot jour eyes the sweets of slamber taste 
Till yoa have thrice severe reflections past 
On the' actions of the day, from first to last. 
Wherein have I transgressed ? what done have I ? 
W^hat actions unperformed have I pass'd by ? 
And if your actions ill, on search yoa find, 
Let grief ; if good, let joy possess yoar mind. 
This do, this think, to this your heart incline ; 
This way will lead yoa to the life divine. 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 145 

t 

thou cured this day ? what vice withstood ? In | 
what respect art thou better?' — Passion will ' 
cease, or become more cool, when it knows every 
day it is to be thus called to account. What 
can be more advantageous than this constant 

<;ustom of searching through the day ! And 

the same course," saith Seneca , *' I take myself; 
and every day sit in judgment on myself; and 
at even, when sdl is hush and still, I make a scru- 
tiny into the day ; look over my words and ac- 
tions, and hide nothing from myself; conceal none 
of my mistakes through fear ; for why should I ? 
When I have it in my power to say thus : * This 
once I forgive thee ; but see thou do so no more. 
— In such a dispute I was too keen; do not for 
the future contend with ignorant men ; they will 
not be convinced, because they are unwilling to 
show their ignorance. — Such a one I reproved 
with too much freedom ; whereby I have not re- 
formed, but exasperated him ; remember hereaftei* 
to be more mild in your censures ; and consider 
not only whether what you say be true, but whe- 
ther the person you say it to can bear to hear the 
truth' ^." — Thus far that excellent moralist. 

Let us take a few other specimens of a more 
pious and christian turn, from a judicious and 
devout writer^. 

" This morning, when I arose, instead of ap- 
plying myself to God in prayer (which I gene- 
rally find it best to do, immediately after a few 
serious reflections), I gave way to idle musing, 
to the great disorder of my heart and frame, 

^ Vid, Seneca de Ira, lib, 3. ct^, 36. 
^ M, Bennet. See his Christ, Orator, page 584. 

H 



146 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

• 

How often have I suffered for want of more 
watchfulness on this occasion ! When shall I be 
wise ? — I have this day shamefully trifled, almost 
through the whole of it; was in my bed when I 
should have been upon my knees; prayed but 
QooUy in the morning; was strangely off my 
guard in the business and conyersation I was 

concerned with in the day, particularly at ; 

I indulged to very foolish, sinful, rile thoughts, 
&c. ; I fell in wiUi a strain of conversation too 
conmion amongst all sorts, viz. speaking evil of 
others ; taking up a reproach against my nei^ 
bour. I have often resolved against this sin, and 
yet run into it again. How treacherous this 
wicked heart of mine ! I have lost several hours 
this day in mere sauntering and idleness. — ^This 
day I had an instance of mine own infirmity, that 
I was a little sui*prised at, and I am sure I ought 

to be humbled for: — the beliaviour of , 

from whom I can expect notliing but humour, 
indiscretion, and folly, strangely ruffled me ; and 
that after I have had warning over and over 
again. What a, poor, impotent, ccmt^ptible 

creature am I! ^This day I have been 

kept, in a great measure, from my too frequent 
failings. — I had this day very comfortable assist- 
ances from God, upon an occasion not a little 

trying ^what shall I render" 

(3.) See that the mind be in the niost com- 
posed and disengaged frame it can, when you enter 
upon this business of self-judgment. Choose a 
time when it is most free from passion, and most 
at leisure from the cares and affairs of life. A 
judge is not like to bring a cause to a good issue, 



IS TO BB ATTAINED. 147 

that is either intoxicated with liquor on the bench* 
or has his min4 distracted with other cares when 
he should be intent on the trial. Remember you 
sit in judgment upon yourself, and have nothing 
to do at present but to sift the evidence which 
conscience may bring in, either for or against you, 
in order to pronounce a just sentence ; which is 
of much greater concernment to you at present 
than any thing else can be; and therefore it 
should be transacted with the utmost care, com- 
posure, and attention. 

(4.) Beware of partiality and the influence of 
self-loye in this weighty business ; which if you 
do not guard against, it will soon lead you into 
self-delusion; the consequences of which may be 
fatal to you. Labour to see yourself as you are ; 
and view things in a just light, and not in that 
IB which you would have tliem appear. Re- 
member that the mind is always apt to believe 
those things which it would have to be true, and 
backwai'd to credit what it wishes to be false; 
and this is an influence you will certainly lie 
under in this affair of self-judgment. 

You need not be much afraid of being too 
severe upon yourself. Your great danger will 
generally be of passing a too favourable judg- 
ment. A judge ought not indeed to be a party 
concerned; and should have no interest in the 
person he sits in judgment upon. But this can- 
not be the case here, — as you yourself are both 
judge and criminal ; which shows the danger of 
pronouncing a too favourable sentence. But re- 
member, your business is only with the evidence 
and the rule of judgment, and that, however you 

h2 



\ 



148 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

come off now, there will be a rehiring in another 
court, where judgment will be accprding to truth. 

'^ However, look not unequally either at the 
good or evil that is in you; but view them as 
they are. If you observe only the good that is in 
you, and overlook the bad, or search only after 
your faults and overlook your graces, neither of 
these will bring you to a true acquaintance with 
yourself®." 

And to induce you to this impartiality, re- 
member that this business (though it may be hid 
from the world) is not done in secret ; God sees 
how you manage it, before whose tribunal you 
must expect a righteous judgment. '^ We should 
order our thoughts so (saith Seneca) as if we had 
a window in our breasts, through which any one 
might see what passes there. And indeed there 
is one that does; for what does it signify that 
our thoughts are hid from men? From God no- 
thing is hid 9." 

(5.) Beware of false rules of judgment. This 
is a sure and common way to self-deception, e. g. 
Some judge of themselves by what they have 
been. But it does not follow, if men are not so 
bad as they have been, that therefore they are as 
good as they should be. It is wrong to make 
our past conduct implicitly the measure of our 
present, or the present the rule of 'our future; 
when our past, present, and future conduct must 
be all brought to another rule. And they who 

® Baxter*s Director, p. 876. 

. ^ Sic cogitaDdam tanqaam aliqais in pectus intimum in- 
spicere possit ; et potest Quid enim prodest ab homine ali- 
quid esse secretom ? Nihil Deo clausam est. Se^» tlpisi. 84> 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 149 

thus measure themselves by themselves, and com- 
pare themselves with themselves, are not wise^^, 
— Agam, others are apt to judge of themselves 
by the opinions of men ; which is the most uncer- 
tsiin rule that can be ; for in that very opinion of 
theirs you may be deceived. How do you know 
they have really formed so good an idea of you 
as they profess? But, if they have, may not I 
others have formed as bad ? 'And why should not * 
the judgment of these be your rule, as well as 
the opinion of those ? Appeal to self-flattery for 
an answer. — However, neither one nor the other 
of them perhaps appear even to know themselves; 
and how should they know you? How is it pos- 
sible they should have opportunities of knowing 
you better than you know yourself? A man can 
never gain a right knowledge of himself from th 
opinion of others, which is so various, and gene 
rally so ill founded ; for men commonly judge by 
outward appearances, or inward prejudice, and 
therefore, for the most part, think and speak of 
us very much at random. — Again, others are for 
judging of themselves by the conduct of their 
superiors, who have opportunities and advantages 
of knowing, acting, and being better ; ** and yet, 
without vanity be it spoken (say they), we are 
not behindhand with them." But what then? 
Neither they nor you perhaps are what the obli- 
gations of your character indispensably require 
you to be, and what you must be ere you can be 
happy. But consider how easily this argument 
may be retorted. You are better than some, you 
say, who have greater opportunities and advan* 

w 2 Cor. x« 12. 




150 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

tages of being good than you have; and there- 
fore your atate is safe. But you yourself have 
greater opportunities and advantages of being 
good than some others have, who are nevertheless 
better than you ; and therefore, by the same rule, 
I your state cannot be safe. — Again, others ju(]^e 
1 of themselves by the common maxims of the 
I vulgar world concerning honour and honesty, 
virtue and interest ; which maxims, though gene- 
rally very corrupt and very contrary to those of 
reason, conscience, and scripture, men will follow 
as a rule, for the sake of the latitude it allows 
them : and fondly think that if they stand right in 
I the opinion of the lowest kind of men, they have 
no reason to be severe upon themselves. Others, 
whose sentiments are more deUcate and refined, 
they imagine, may be mistaken, or may overstrain 
the matter. In which persuasion they are icon- 
firmed, by observing horseldom the conscience., 
of the generality of men smite them for those 
tilings which these nice judges condemn as 
heinous crimes. I need not say how false^ and 
pernicious a rule this is. — Again, others may 
judge of themselves and their state, by sudden 
impressions they have had, or strong hnpulses 
upon their spirits, which they attribute to the 
finger of God ; and by which they have been so 
exceedingly affected as to make no doubt but 

1' that it was the instant of their conversion. But 
whether it was or no can never be known but by 
the conduct of their after lives. — In like manner, 
others judge of their good state by their good 
frames; though very rare, it may be, and very 
transient; soon passing off like a morning cloud. 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 151 

or as the early dew. ** But we should not judge 
of ourselves by that which is unusual or extraor- 
dinary with us ; but by the ordinary teuor and 
drift of our lives. A bad man may seem good in 
some good mOod; and a good man may seem 
bad in some extraordinary falls ; to judge of a 
bad man by his best hours, and a good man by 
his worst, is the way to be deceived in tliem 
both^^.'' And the same way may you be de- 
ceived in yourself. — Pharaoh, Ahab, Herod, and 
Felix had all of them their softenings, their tran- 
sitory fits of goodness ; but yet they remain upon 
record under the blackest characters. 

Tliese then are all wrong rules of judgment; 
and to trust them^ or to try oursdves by them, 
leads to fatal self-deceptiou. Again, 

(6.) In the business of self-examination you 
must not only take care you do not judge by 
wrong rules, but that you do not judge wrong by 
right rules. You must endeavour then to be well 
acquainted with them. The office of a judge is 
not only to collect the evidence and the circum- 
stances of facts, but to be well skilled in the laws 
by which those facts are to be examined. 

Now the only right rules by which we are to \ 
examine, in order to know ourselves, are reason I 
and scripture. Some are for setting aside these ^1"^^ 
rules, as too severe for them ; too stiff to bend to [ 
their perverseness ; too straight to measure their 
crooked ways : are against reason, when reason 
is against them ; decrying it as carnal reason^: < 
and against scripture, when scripture is against! 
them, despising it as a dead letter. And thus^i 

" Baxter* a Direct, p, 676, 



152 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

(rather than be convinced they are wrong, tiiey 
reject the only means that can set them right. 
. And as some are for setting aside these rules, 
I so others are for setting them one against the 
other ;^reason against scripture, and scripture 
against reason ; when they are both given us by 
the God of our natures, not only as perfectly 
, consistent, but as proper to explain and illustrate 
j each other, and prevent our mistaking either; 
and to be, when ^ken together (as they alway» 
should) the most complete and only rule by 
which to judge both of ourselves and every thing 
belonging to our salvation as reasonable and 
fallen creatures. 

, (1.) Then one part of that rule which God 
hath given us to judge of ourselves by is right 
reason : by which I do not mean the reasonmg 
df any particular man, which may be very diffe- 
rent from the reasoning of another particular man ; 
and both, it may be, very different from right 
reason ; because both may be influenced not so 
much by the reason and nature of things as by 
partial prepossessions and the power of passions. 
V But by right reason, I mean those common prin- 
ciples, which are readily allowed by all who are 
capable of understanding them, and not notori- 
ously perverted by the force of prejudice; and 
which are confirmed by the common consent of 
all the sober and thinking part of mankind ; and 
may be eaily learned by the light of nature. 
Therefore, if any doctrine or practice, ^ough 
supposed to be founded in or countenanced by 
revelation, be nevertheless apparently repugnant 
to these dictates of right reason^ or evidently con* 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 153 

tradict our natural notions of the dirine attri- 
butesy or weaken our obligations to universal 
virtue, that we may be sure is no part of revela- 
tion ; because then one part of our rule would 
clash with and be opposite to the other. And 
thus reason was designed to be our guard against li 
a wild and extravagant construction of scripture. I 

(2.) The other part of our rule is jhe sacred 
scriptures, which we are to use as our guard 
^gettnst the Ucentious excursions of fancy, which 
is often imposing itself upon us for right reason. 
Let any religious scheme or notion then appear 
ever so pleasing or plausible, if it be not esta- 
blished on the plain principles of scripture, it is 
forthwith to be discarded : and that sense of scrip- 
ture that is violently forced to bend towards it is 
very much to be suspected. 

It must be very surprising to one who reads 
and studies the sacred scriptures with a free, un- 
biased mind, to see what elaborate, finespun, 
flimsy glosses men will invent and put upon some 
texts as the true and genuine sense of them ; for 
no other reason but because it is most agreeable 
to the opinion of their party, from which, as the 
standard of their orthodoxy, they durst never 
depart ; who, if they were to write a critique in 
the same manner on any Greek or Latin author, 
would make themselves extremely ridiculous in 
the eyes of the learned world. But, if we would 
not pervert our rule, we must learn to think as 
scripture speaks, and not compel that to speak 
as we think. 

Would we know ourselves then, we must often 

h3 



154 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

view ourselves in the g^ass of fi9<^'« wnrd^ . And 
when we fiiave taken a full survey of ourselves 
from thence, let us not soon forget what manner 
of persons ti?c are^^. If our own image do not 
please us, let us not quarrel with our mirror, but 
set about mending ourselves. 

The eye of the mind, indeed, is not like that of 
the body, which can see every thing else but 
itself; for the eye of the mind can turn itself in- 
ward, and survey itself. However, it must be 
owned, it can see itself much better when its own 
image is reflected upon it from this mirror : and 
it is by this only that we can come at the bottom 
of our hearts, and discover those secret preju- 
dices and carnal prepossessions which self-love 
would hide from us. 

This then is the first thing we must do, in 
order to self-knowledge. We must examine, 
scrutinize, and judge ourselves diligently, lei- 
surely, frequently, and impartially; and that not 
by the false maxims of the world, but by the , 
rules which God hath given us,^reason andr 
scripture; and take care to understand those 
rules, and not set them at variance. 

'» Jam. i. 23, 24. 




IS TO BB ATTAINEF. 155 

CHAP. II. 

CONSTANT WATCHFULNESS NECESSARY TO 8ELF-4LN0'WUB9GB. 

2. Would we know ourselves, we must be very 1 
watc hful ove r our hearts and lives._ 1 

(l.; }^e must keep a vigilant eye upon our 
hearts ; i. e. our tempers, inclinations, and pas- 
sions. A more necessary piece of advice, in 
order to self-acquaintance there cannot be, than 
that which Solomon gives. us ^, Keep your heart \ 
with all diligence, or (as it is in the original) 1 
above all keeping, q. d. Whatever you neglect \ 
or overlook, be sure you mind your heart ^. Nar- 
rowly observe all its inclinations and aversions, 
all its motions and affections, together with the 
several objects and occasions which excite them. 
And this precept we find in scripture enforced 
with two very urgent reasons. The first is, be- 
cause out of it are the issues of life ; i. e. As our 
heart is, so will the tenor of our life and conduct 
be. As is the fountain, so are the streams ; as is 
the root, so is the fruit ^. And the other is, be- 
cause it is deceitful above all things^. And 
therefore, without a constant guard upon it, we 
shall insensibly run into many hurtful self-decep- 
tions. To which I may add that, without this 
careful keeping of the heart, we shall never be 

» ProT. iT.2a. 

' Parallel to this adrice of .the Royal Preacher is that of 
the imperial philosopher. Ev^ov /3X€7r€, tvdov yap ti Trtyti 
Tn ay ads. Look within ; for within is the foantain of good. 
M. Aurel. lib. 7. § 59. 

® Matt. viL 18. * Jer. xyii. 9. 



156 



HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 



1 



able to (Require any considerable degree of setf- 
acquaintance or self-government. 

(2.) To know ourselves, we must watch our 
life and conduct as well as our hearts : and by 
this the heart will be better known; as the root 
is best known by the fruit. We must atten< 
the nature and consequences or every action we 
aFe clisposecl or solicited to, before we comTply ; 
and consider how it will appear in a future re- 
view. We are apt enough to observe and watch 
the conduct of others : a wise man will be as 
critical and as severe *upon his own ; for indeed 
we have a great deal more to do with our own 
conduct than that of other men; as we are to 
answer for our own, but not for theirs. By ob- 
serving the conduct of other men, we know 
them ; by carefully observing our own» we must 
know ourselves. 



j 



CHAP. III. 

WE SHOULD HAVE SOME REGARD TO THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS 
CONCERNING US, PARTICUIJUILY OF OUR ENEMIES. 

3. Would we know ourselves, we shoul d not 
altoget her neglec t the opinion which others may 
entertain concerning us. 

Not that we need be very solicitous about the 
censure or applause of the world, which are ge- 
nerally very rash and wrong, and proceed from 
the particular humours and prepossessions of 
men : and he that knows himself will soon know 
how to despise them both. . ^* The judgment 
which the world makes of us is generally of no 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 167 

manner of use to us ; it adds nothing to our souls i 
or bodies, nor lessens any of our miseries. Let 
us constantly follow reason (says Montaigne), 
and let the public approbation follow us the same 
way, if it pleases." 

But still, I say, a total indifference in this mat- 
ter is unwise^. We ought not to be entirely in- 
sensible of the reports of others: no, not to the 
railings of an enemy; for an enemy may say 
something out of ill will to us, which it may con- 
cern us to think of coolly when we are by our- 
selves; to examine whether the accusation be 
just; and what there is in our conduct and tem- 
per which may make it appear so : and by this 
means our enemy may do us more good than he 
intended; and discover to us something in our 
hearts which we did not before advert to. A 
man that hath no enemies ought to have very 
faithful friends ; and one who hath no such friends, 
ought to think it no calamity that he hath enemies 
to be his effectual monitors. — '' Our friends (says 
Mr. Addison) very often flatter us as much as 
our own hearts. They either do not see our 
faults, or conceal them from us ; or soften them 
by their representations, after such a manner that 
we think them too trivial to be taken notice of. 



^ Tdc Ss &Kaipovg KartiyopioQ — ovde &fHTpiji>Q dtdoiKkvai- 
cat rpkfitiv ovdt AirXiOQ vapopav xaXdv iiXXd, xP^) i^^v 
yl/vSuQt Tvyxo-vuxriv, oifffai, k&v rrapd rStv tvx6vtu)v i)/iiv> 
kirayuivrai, 7reipa<r9ai a^evvvvcu Tax^*»»C dwag, ChrysosU 
de Sacerd* 1. 6. o. 4. As to the groundless reports that may 
be raised to oar disadvanti^e, it is not good either too much 
to fear them, or entirely to despise them. We should endea- 
Tour to stifle them, be they ever so false, or the authors of 
them ever so contemptible.* 



158 HOW SBLF-KNOWLED6E 

An adyersary, on the contrary^ makes a stricter 
search into us, discoTers every flaw and imper- 
fection in our tempers, and though his malice may 
set them in too strong a light, it has generally 
some ground for what it advances. A friend 
exaggerates a man's virtues, an enemy inflames 
his crimes. A wise man should give a just at- 
tention to both of them, so far as it may tend to 
the improvement of the one, and the diminution 
of the other. Plutarch has written an essay on , 
the benefits which a man may receive from hn 
enemies ; and, among the good fruits of enmity, 
mentions this in particular. That by the reproaches 
it casts upon us we see the worst side of our- , 
selves, and open our eyes to several blemishes 
and defects in our lives and conversations, which 
we should not have observed without the help of 
such ill natured monitors. 

** In order likewise to come at a true know- 
ledge of ourselves, we should consider, on the 
other hand, how far we may deserve the praises 
and approbations which the worid bestow upon 
us; whether the actions they celebrate proceed 
from laudable and worthy motives, and how far 
we are really possessed of the virtues which gain 
us applause amongst those with whom we con- 
verse. Such a reflection is absolutely necessary, 
if we consider how apt we are either to value or 
condemn ourselves by the opinions of others, and 
to sacrifice the report of our own hearts to the 
Judgment of the world^.'* 

In that treatise of Plutarch here referred to, 
there are a great many excellent things pertinent 

» Spectat. VoL vi» Nc. 39f». 



>ite, malice, / 

inqaisitlye, / 

i, acquaints f 
and minds ; / J 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 159 

to this subject; and therefore I thought it not 
improper to throw a few extracts out of it into 
the margin ^ 

It is the character of a dissolute mind, to be 
entirely insensible to all that the world says of 
us : and shows such a confidence of self-lmow- 
ledge, as is usually a sure sign of self-ignorance. 

^ The foolish and inconsiderate ^oil the yery friendship [jfLJlyi 
they are engaged in ; bat the wise and pradent make good ase Y ^ 

of Uie hatred and enmity of men against them. p\ f 

Why shonld we not take an enemy for oar tator> who will i 
instract as gratis in those things we knew not before ? For an / .. 
enemy sees and understands more in matters relating to us jf^^^^i 
than our friends do, because lore is blind ; but spite, malice, / 

ill will, wrath, and contempt, talk much, are yery * — ''"* — ' 
and quicksighted. 

Oar enemy, to gratify his ill will towards us, 
himself with the infirmities both of our bodies and minds ; | j 
sticks to our faults, and makes his inyidious remarks upon ^(Lf/)A 
them, and spreads them abroad by his uncharitable and ill ^^^ 
natured reports. Hence we are taught this useful lesson for 
the direction and management of our conyersation in the 
world, yiz. that we be circumspect and wary in eyery thing 
we speak or do, as if our enemy always stood at our elbow, 
and oyeriooked our actions. 

Those persons whom that wisdom hath brought to liye so> 
berly, which the fear and awe of enemies hath infused, are by 
degrees drawn into a habit of liying so, and are composed and 
fixed in their obedience toyirtue by custom and use. 

When one asked Diogenes how he might be ayenged of hb 
enemies? he replied. To be yourself a good and honest man. 

Antisthenes spake incomparably well, " that, if a man would 
liye a safe and unblamable life, it was necessary that he 
should haye yery ingenuous and faithful friends, or yery bad 
enemies ; because the first, by their kind admonitions, would 
keep him from sinning ; the latter, by their inyectiyes." 

He that hath no friend to giye him adyice, or reproye him 
when he does amiss, must bear patiently the rebukes of his 
enemies, and thereby learn to mend the errors of his ways ; 
considering seriously the object which these seyere censures 
aim at, and not what he is who makes them : — for he who de- 
signed the death of Prometheus, the Thessalian, instead of 



160 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

The most knowing minds are evefr least presump- 
tuous: and true self-knowledge is a science of 
so much depth and difficulty, that a wise man 
would not choose to be over confident that all his 
notions of himself are right, in opposition to the 
judgment of all mankind ; some of whom perhaps 
have better opportunities and advantages of know- 
ing him (at some seasons especially) than he has 
of knowing himself; because herein they never 
look through the same false medium of self-flat- 
tery. 

giying him a fatal blow, only opened a sweUing which he had, 
which did really save his life. Jast so may the harsh repre- 
hensions of enemies care some distempers of the mind, which 
were before either not known or neglected, though their angry 
speeches do originally proceed from malice or ill will. 

If any man, with opprobrious language, objects to you 
crimes yon know nothing of, you ought to inquire into the 
causes or reasons of such false accusations ; whereby you may 
learn to take heed for the future, lest you should unwarily 
commit those offences which are unjustly imputed to you. 

Wheneyer any thing is spoken against yon that is not tmej 
do not pass by, or despise it because it is false ; but forthwith 
examine yourself, and consider what you have said or done 
that may administer a just occasion of reproof. 

Nothing can be a greater instance of wisdom and humanity 
than for a man to bear silently and quietly the follies and re- 
vilings of an enemy ; taking as much care not to provoke him, 
as he would to sail safely by a dangerous rock. 

It is an eminent piece of humanity, and a manifest token of 
a nature truly generous, to put up with the affronts of an 
enemy, at a time when you have a fair opportunity to revenge 
them. 

Let us carefully observe those good qualities wherein our 
enemies excel us ; and endeavour to excel them, by avoiding 
what Ls faulty, and imitating what is excellent in them. PIkI. 
Mor, Vol. i. p. 265, et seq. 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 161 



CHAP. IV. 

FREQUENT CONVERSE WITH SUPERIORS A HELP TO SELF- 
KNOWLEDGE. 

4. Another proper means of self-knowledge is, 
to converse as much as you can lyjth tViofi^ yf]\(^ 
a^P yoiir ayperiors in re^l excellence. 

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise ^. 
Their example will not only be your motive to 
laudable pursuits, but a mirror to your mind ; by 
which you may possibly discern some failings, or 
deficiencies, or neglects in yourself, which before 
escaped you. You will see the unreasonableness 
of your vanity and self-sufficiency, when you ob- 
serve how much you are surpassed by others in 
knowledge and goodness. Their proficiency will 
make your defects the more obvious to yourself: 
and by the lustre of their virtues you will better 
see the deformity of your vices ; your negligence 
by their diligence ; your pride by their humility ; 
your passion by their meekness; and your folly 
by their wisdom. 

Examples not only move, but teach and direct, 
much more effectually than precepts ; and show 
us not only that such virtues may be practised, 
but how ; and how lovely they appear when they 
are. And therefore, if we cannot have them 
always before our eyes, we should endeavour to 

» Prov. xiii. 20. 



102 HOW SELF-KNOWLBDOE 

have them always in our mind; and especially 
that of our great Head and Pattern, who hath 
set us a perfect example of the most innocent 
conduct, under the worst and most disadvan- 
tageous circumstances of human Ufe^. 



CHAP. V. 

OF CULTIVATING SUCH A TEMPER AS WILL BE THE BEST 
DISPOSmON TO SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

5. If a man would know himself, he must with 
great care cultivate that temper which will best 
dispose him to receive this knoyledi 

Blow, as there are lio greater hinderances to 
self-knowledge than pride and obstinacy, so there 
is nothing more helpful to it than humility and an 
openness to conviction. 

ITlJ One who is in quest of self-knowledge, 
must above all things seek humility. And how 
near an affinity there is between these two, ap- 
pears from hence, — that they are both acquired 
the same way. The very means of attaining hu- 
mility are the properest means for attaining self- 
acquaintance. By keeping an eye every day 
upon our faults and wants, we become more 
humble; and by the same means we become 
more self-intelligent. By considering how far 
we fall short of our rule and our duty, and bow 

^ Qui plenissimd intelligere appetit qnalis sit, tales debet 
aspicere qnalis non est ; at in bonorum formli, metiatur qaan- 
torn deformis est. Greg, 



m 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 163 

Tastly others exceed ns, and especially by a 
daily and diligent study of the word of God, we 
come to have meaner thoughts of ourselves ; and 
by the yery same means we come to have a better 
acquaintance with ourselves. 

A proud man cannot know himself. Pride is 
that beam in tlie eye of his mind, which renders 
him quite blind to any blemishes there. Hence 
nothing is a surer sign of self-ignorance than 
vanity and ostentation. 

Indeed, true self-knowledge and humility are 
so necessarily connected, that they depend upon, 
and mutually beget, each other. A man that 
knows himself, knows the worst of himself, and 
therefore cannot but be humble; and a humble 
mind is frequently contemplating its own faults 
and weaknesses, which greatly improves it in 
self-knowledge : so that self-acquaintance makes 
a man humble; and humility gives him still a 
better acquaintance with himself. 

(2.) An openness to conviction is no less ne- \ 
eessary to self-knowledge than humility. I 

As nothing is a greater bar to true knowledge 
than an obstinate stiffness in opinion, and a fear 
to depart from old notions, which (before we 
were capable of judging, perhaps) we had long 
taken up for the truth; so notlung is a greater 
bar to self-knowledge than a strong aversion to 
part with those sentiments of ourselves which we 
have been blindly accustomed to, and to think 
worse of ourselves than we are wont to do. 

And such an unwillingness to retract our sen- 
timents in both cases proceeds from the same 
cause, viz. a reluctance to self-condenmation. 



164 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

For he that takes up a new way of thinking;, 
contrary to that which he hath long received, 
therein condemns himself of haying lived in an 
error; and he that begins to see faults in himself 
he never saw before, condemns himself of having 
lived in ignorance and sin. Now this is a most 
ungrateful business, and what self-flattery can by 
no means endure. 

But such an inflexibility of judgment and ha- 
tred of conviction is a very unhappy and hurtful 
turn of mind : and a man that is resolved never to 
be in the wrong, is in a fair way never to be in 
the right. 

As infallibility is no privilege of the human 
nature, it is no diminution to a man's good sense 
or judgment to be found in an error, provided he 
is willing to retract it. He acts with the same 
freedom and liberty as before, whoever be his 
monitor ; and it is his own good sense and judg- 
ment that still guides him; which shines to great 
advantage in thus directing him against the bias 
of vanity and self-opinion : and in thus changing 
his sentiments, he only acknowledges that he is 
not (what no man ever was) incapable of being 
mistaken. In short, it is more merit, and an ar- 
gument of a more excellent mind, for a man freely 
to retract when he is in the wrong, than to be 
overbearing and positive when he is in the right'. 



® Et rig fit ikty^ai, km wapa'^rioai ftot, on hjc opOtag 
viro\ap.fiav(a rj vpaaaut, dwaTai, yatpa>v furaBfiffOfiav 
i^fjTO) yap rijv aXri9fiav v<^' i\q sOtiQ iruiirori ipKc^ti* 
j3Xa7rrcrai ^c o tTnp,tviiiv ctti rriQ EavTH airarriQ k<u 
ayvoiuQ. M, Aur. lib, 6. sect, 21. If any one can oonyinoe 
me that I am wrong in any point of sentiment or practice, I 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. .165 

A man tken must be willing to know himself, \ ^ 
before he can know himself. He must open I 
his eyes, if he desires to see ; yield to evidence 
and conviction, though it be at the expense of 
his judgment, and to the mortification of his 
vanity. 



CHAP. VI. 

TO BE SENSIBLE OF OUR FALSE KNOWLEDGE A GOOD STEP 

TO SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

6. Would you know yourself, take heed and \ 

a^Bl aff^fflgt-fal^i? toairledgP- . . I 

See that the light that is witl^ you be not 
darkness; that your favourite and leading prin- 
ciples be right. Search your furniture, and con- 
sider what you have to unlearn ; for oftentimes 
there is as much wisdom in casting off some 
knowledge which we have, as in acquiring that 
which we have not : which, perhaps, was what ^ 
made Themistocles reply, when one offered to 
teach him the art of memory. That he had much 
rather he would teach him the art of forgetful- 
ness. 

A scholar that hath been all his life collecting 
books, will find in his library at last a great deal 
of rubbish: and, as his taste alters and his judg- 
ment improves, he will throw out a great many 
as trash and lumber, which, it may be, he once 
valued and paid dear for; and replace them 
with such as are more solid and useful. Just so 

will alter it with all my heart; for it is tmth I seek, and that 
can hnrt nobody. It is only persisting in error or ignorance 
that can hurt us. 



J 



^ 



166 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

should we deal with our understandings; look 
over the furniture of the mind; separate the 
chaff from the wheat, which are generally re- 
ceived into it together ; and take as much pains 
to forget what we ought not to have learned, as 
to retain what we ought not to forget. To read 
froth and trifles all our life, is the way always to 
retain a flashy and juvenile turn ; and only to 
contemplate our first (wliich is generally our 
worst) knowledge, cramps the progress of the 
understanding, and makes our self-survey ex- 
tremely deficient. In short, would we improve 
the understanding to the valuable purposes of 
Self-knowledge, we must take as much care what 
books we rea4 a^s what company we keep. 

'' The pains we take in books or arts, which 
treat of tilings remote from the use of life, is a 
busy idleness. If I study (says Montaigne), it 
is for no other science than what treats of the 
knowledge of myself, and instructs me how to 
live and die well ^." 

It is a comfortless speculation, and a plain 
proof of the imperfection of the human undei^ 
standing, that, upon a narrow scrutiny into our' 
furniture, we observe a great many things which 
we think we know, but do not; and many which 
we do know, but ought not ; that a good deal 
of the knowledge we have been all our lives col- 
lecting, is no better than mere ignorance, and 
some of it worse ; to be sensible of wliich is a 
very necessary step to self-acquaintance". 

> Rule of Life, ^, S2, 90. 
^ See Part i. chap, xiii./n. 



X 



OCmAawP 



IS TO BB ATTAINBD. 167 



CHAP. VII. 

8ELF-IN8PBCTION PECUUABLY NECE8SART UPON SCMIE 
PARncmAR OCCASIONS. 

7. Would you know yourself, you must very 
carefully attend to the frame and emotions of 
your nund under some extraordinary mcidents. 

oome sudden accidents wlucli befall you when 
the mind is most off its guard, will better dis- 
cover its secret turn and prevailing disposition 
than much greater events you are prepared to 
meet, e, g, 

(1.) Consider how you liehave under any sud- 
den affronts or provocations from men. A fooVs 
wrath is presently known^; Le, a fool is pre- 
sently known by his wrath. 

If your anger ]>e soon kindled, it is a sign that 
secret pride lies lurking in the heart; which, 
like gunpowder, takes iire at every spark of pro- 
vocation that lights upon it. For whatever may 
be owing to a natural temper, it is ceiiain that 
pride is the cliief cause of frctjuent and wrathful 
resentments. For pride and anger are as nearly 
allied as humility and meekness. Only by pride 
Cometh contention^ : — and a man would not know 
what mud lay at the bottom of his heart, if pro- 
vocation did not stir it up. 

Athenodorus the philosopher, by reason of his 

» Prov. xii. 16. « ProT. iiii. 10. 



\ 



170 HOW SELF-KNOWI.EDGE 

man receives more benefit from his enemies than 
from his friends; from his afflictions than from 
his mercies; by winch means his enemies be- 
come in effect his best friends^ and his afflictions 
his greatest mercies. Certain it is, that a man 
never has an opportunity of taking a more fair 
and undisguised view of himself than in these 
circumstances; and therefore, by diligently ob- 
serving in what manner he is affected at such 
times, he may make an improvement in the true 
knowledge of himself, very much to his future 
advantage, though, perhaps, not a little to his 
present mortification: for a sudden provocation 
firom man, or a severe affliction from God, may 
detect something which lay latent and undis- 
covered so long at the bottom of his heart, that 
he never once suspected it to have had any place 
there. Thus the one excited wrath in the meek- 
est man^, and the other passion in the most 
patient'''. 

By considering then m what manner we bear 
the particular afflictions God is pleased to allot 
us, and what benefit we receive from them, we 
may come to a very considerable acquaintance 
with ourselves. 

(3.) What is our usual temper and dispoMtion 
in a time of peace, prosperity, and pleasure, 
when the soul is generally most unguarded ? 

This is the warm season that nourishes and 
impregnates the seeds of vanity, self-confidence, 
and a supercilious contempt of others. If there 
be such a root of bitterness in the heart, it will 

^ Psal. cvi. 33. 7 job, iiL 3. 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 171 

be very apt to skoot fortk in the sunshine of 
unintmupted prosperity; even after the frost 
of adversity had nipped it, and, as we thought, 
killed it. 

Prosperity is a trial as well as adversity ; and | 
is commonly attended with more dangerous 
temptations : and were the mind but as seriously 
disposed to self-reflection, it would have a greater 
advantage of attaining a true knowledge of itself 
under the former than under the latter : but the 
unhappiness of it is, the mind is seldom rightly 
turned for such an employment under those cir- 
cumstances. It has something else to do; has 
the concerns of the world to mind ; and is too 
much engaged by things without it, to advert to 
those within ; and is more disposed to enjoy than 
examine itself. However, it is a very necessary 
season for self-examination, and a very proper 
time to acquire a good degree of self-acquaint- 
ance, if rightly improved. . 

(Lastly.) How do we behave in bad company? } 
— And that is to be reckoned bad con[^>any in 
which there is no probability of our doing or 
getting any good, but apparent danger of our 
doing or getting much harm; I mean, our 
giving ofience to others by an indiscreet zeal, 
or incurring guilt to ourselves^ by a criminal 
compliance. 

Are we carried down by the torrent of vanity 
and vice? Will a flash of wit or a brilliant fancy 
make us excuse a profane expression ? If so, we 
shall soon come to relish it when thus seasoned, 
and use it ourselves. 

i2 



172 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

This is a time when our zeal and wisdom, oor 
fortitude and firmness, are generally put* to the 
most delicate proof; and when we may tob often 
take notice of the unsuspected escapes of folly, 
fickleness, and indiscretion. 

At such seas<Mis as these, then, we may often 
discern what lies at the bottom of our hearts, 
better than we can in the more even and cus- 
. ternary scenes of life, when the passions are all 
* calm and still. And, therefore, would we know 
ourselves, we should be very attentive to our 
frame, temper, disposition, and conduct, upon 
such occasions. 



CHAP. VIII. 

TO KNOW OURSELVES WE MUST IVHOLLY ABSTRACT FROM 
EXTERNAL APPEARANCES. 

8. Would you know yourself, you must, as far 
as possible, get above the influence of exteriors, 
or a mere ounvara show . 

A man is what ins heart is. The knowledge 
of himself is the knowledge of his heart, which 
is entirely an inward thing ; to the knowledge of 
which then, outward things (such as a man's 
condition and state in the world) can contribute 
nothing ; but, on the other hand, is top often a 
great bar and hinderance to him in his pursuit of 
Self-knowledge. 
\ (1.) Are your circumstances in the world easy 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 173 

and prosperous, take care you do not judge of \ 
yourself too favourably on that account. 

These things are without you, and therefore 
can never be the measure of what is within : and 
however the world may respect you for them, 
they do not in the least make you either a wiser 
or more valuable man. 

In forming a true judgment of yourself then, 
you must entirely set aside the consideration of 
your estate and family, — your wit, beauty, ge- 
nius, health, &c. which are all but the appen- 
dages or trappings of a man : a smooth and shin- 
ing varnish, which may lacker over the barest 
metaP. 

A man may be a good and happy man with- ' v i 
out these things, and a bad and wretched one ^ / 
with them : nay, he may have all these, and be < 
the worse for them. They are so far from being j \<^ 
good and excellent in themselves, that we often ■ 
see Providence bestows them upon the vilest of j 
men, and in kindness denies them to some of the 
best. They are oftentimes the greatest tempta- 
tions, and put a man^s laith and wisdom to the 
most dangerous trial. 

(2.) Is your condition in life mean and af- 
flicted? Do not judge the worse of yourself 
for not having those external advantages which 
others have. 

None will think the worse of you for the want 

' Si perpendere te voles, sepone pecuniam, domam, dig-1 






nitatem, intus te ipse consale. Sen, 

Nam genus, et proayos, et qase non fecimus ipsi, j 

Vix ea nostra voco. Ovid. Met, IU>, xiiL 140. / 



Ltvi^ L l/L wIL 



i 




174 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

of them, but those who think the better of them- 
selves for having them : in both which they show 
a very depraved and perverted judgment. These 
are (rd aK itJD* vf^iv) things entirely without us, 
and out of our power ; for which a man is nei- 
ther the better nor the worse, but according as 
he uses them : and therefore you ought to be as 
indifferent to them as they are to you. A good 
man shines amiably through all the obscurity of 
his low fortunes ; and a wicked man is a poor Bttle 
> wretch in the midst of all his grandeur^. 

Were we to follow the judgment of the world, 
we should indeed think otherwise of all these 
things ; and by that mistake be led into a wrong 
notion of ourselves. But we have a better rule 
to follow ; to which, if we adhere, the consider- 
ation of our external condition in life, whatever 
it be, will have no undue influence on the mind 
in its search after Self-knowledge. 

' Parvus pnmilio, licet in monte ooDstiterit : coIossqb 
magnitadinem suam servabit, etiamsi steterit in puteo. Ssh. 
EpisU 77. 

" Piggies are pigmies stUl, tboagh placed on Alps ; 
And pyramids are pyramids in yales." 
^ . Night ThoughU, 

■l'\ :> "T . f ^ ' Cr'V^ 0^ K^ 1^ 



IS TO BB ATTAINBD. • 175 



CHAP. IX. 

THE PRACTICE OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE A GREAT BfEANS TO 

PROMOTE rr. 



9. Lbt all your Self-knowledge be reduced into \ 
nraclice. / 




> 



le rigkt improvement of that knowledge we 
have, is the best way to attain more. 

The great end of Self-knowledeje is self-go- 
yernmer ^: without which (like all other) it is but 
a useless speculation. And as all knowledge is A^j* 
valuablb in proportion to its end, so this is the 
most excellent, only because the practice of it is 
of the most extensive use. 

'' Above all other subjects/' says an ancient 
pious writer, *^ study t h^yig nvn ^ self^ For no 
knowledge that termmates in curiosi^or specu- 
lation is comparable to that which is of use ; and 
of all useful knowledge, that is most so which 1 
4!onsists in the due care and just notions of our- ' 
selves. This study is a debt which every one ! 
owes himself. Let us not then be so lavish, so \ 
unjust, as not to pay this debt; by spending 
some part, &t least, tf we cannot all or most, of ; 
our time and care upon that which has the most 
indefeasible claim to it. Govern your passions ; . 
manage your actions with-^Sd^fcilFEiFe : 
false steps have been made, correct them for the ; 
future. Let nothing be allowed to grow head- j 
strong and disorderly ; but bring all under disci- j 
pline. Set all your faults before your eyes ; andj 
pass sentence upon yourselt" with the same seve-t 



>. ; It- . 




{Mt/^O'^ 




I 



176 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

rity as you would do upon another, for whom no 
partiality hath biased your judgment ^." 

What will our most exact and diligent self- 
researches avail us, if, after all, we sink into in- 
dolence and sloth ? Or what will it signify to be 
convinced that there is a great deal amiss in our 
deportments and dispositions, if we sit still con^ 
tentedly under that conviction, without taking 
one step towards a reformation ? It will indeed 
render us but the more guilty in' the sight of 
God. And how sad a thing will it l>e to have 
our Self-knowledge hereafter rise up in judg- 
ment against us ! 

'' Examination^ is in order to correction and 
amendment: we abuse it and ourselves, if we 
rest in the duty without looking further. We 
are to review our daily walk, that we may reform 
it: and consequently a daily review will point 
out to us the subject and matter of our future 
daily care." — " This day (saith the Christian, 
upon his review of things at night) I lost so 

much time; particularly at 1 took too great 

a liberty ; particularly in I omitted such an 

opportunity that might have been improved to 

better purpose. I mismanaged such a duty 

I find such a corruption often working ; my old 
infirmity still cleaves to me: how easily doth 

this sin beset me! —Oh! may I be more 

attentive for the time to come, more watchful 
over my heart; take more heed to my ways! 
-May I do so the next day!" "The. know- 
ledge of a distemper is a good step to a cure; at 
least, it directs to proper methods aiid applica- 

^ Si, Bernard^s Medit, chap. 5. 



IS TO BB ATTAINED. 177 

tioQs in order to it. Seif-acquaintanc< 
s elf-reformation . He tbat at the close of each 

ly calls oyer what is past^ inspects himself, his 
behaviour and manners, will not fall into that 
security, and those uncensured follies that are so 
common and so dangerous^." 

And it may not be improper, in order to make 
us sensible of, and attentive to some of the more 
secret faults and foibles of our tempers, to pen 
them down at night, according as they appeared 
during the transactions of the day. By which 
means, we shall not only have a more distinct 
view of that part of our character to which we 
are generally most blind, but shall be able to 
discover some defects and blemishes in it, which 
perhaps we never apprehended before; for the 
wiles and doublings of the heart are sometimes 
so hidden and intricate, that it requires the nicest 
care and most steady attention to detect and un- 
fold them. 

For instance : — " This day I read an author^ 
whose sentiments were very different from mine, 
and who expressed himself with much warmth 
and confidence. It excited my spleen, I own; 
and I immediately passed a severe censure upon 
him : so that had he been present, and talked in 
the same strain, my ruffled temper would have 
prompted me to use harsh and ungrateful lan^- 
guage, which might have occasioned a very un- 
christian contention. But I now recollect, that 
though the author might be mistaken in those 
sentiments (as I still believe he was), yet, by his 
particular circumstances in hfe, and the method 

' Bennetts Christ. Orat. p. 578. 

I3 



178 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

of his edacation, he hath been strongly led into 
that way of thinking; so that his prejudice is 
pardonable; but my uncharitableness is not; 
especially considering that in many respects he 
has the ascendant of me. This proceeded then 
from uncharitableness^ which is one fault of my 
temper I have to watch against; and which I 
never was before so sensible of as I am now upon 
this recollection. Learn more moderation, and 
make more allowances for the mistaken opinions 
of others for the future; be as charitable to 
others who differ from you, as you desire they 
should be to you who diffier as much from them; 
for it may be, you cannot be more assured of 
being in the right than they are. 

" Again : — ^This day I found myself strongly 
inclined to put in something, by way of abate- 
ment, to an excellent character given of an absent 
person, by one of his great admirers. It is true, 
I had the command of myself to hold my tongue ; 
and it is well I had ; for the ardour of his zeal 
would not have admitted the exception (though 
I still think that in some degree it was just); 
which might have raised a wrangling debate 
about his character, perhaps at the expense of 
my own, or, however, occasioned much ani- 
mosity and contention. -But I have since 

examined the secret spring of that impulse, and 
find it to be envy; which I was not then sensible 
of; but my antagonist had certainly imputed it 
to this: and had he taken the liberty to have 
told me so, I much question whether I should 
have had the temper of the philosopher, who, 
when he was really injured, being asked whether 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 179 

he was angry or no? replied No; but I am con- 
sidering with myself whether I ought not to be so. 
*-I doubt I should not have had so much compo- 
sure ; but should have immediately resented it ^s 
a false and malicious aspersion. But it was cer- 
tainly envy, and nothing else; for the person 
who was Uie object of the encomium was much 
my superior in many respects : and the exception 
that arose to my mind was the only flaw in his 
character; which nothing but a quicksighted 
envy could descry. Take heed then of that vice 
for the future. 

" Again : — ^This day I was much surprised to 
observe in myself the symptoms of a vice, which, 
of all others, I ever thought myself most clear of; 
and have always expressed the greatest detesta- 
tion of in others, and that is covetousness. For 
what else could it be that prompted me to with- 
hold my charity from my fellow-creature in dis- 
tress, on pretence that he was not in every respect 
a proper object; or to dispense it so sparingly 
to another, who I knew was so, on pretence of 
having lately been at a considerable expense 
upon another occasion? This could proceed from 
nothing else but a latent principle of covetous^ 
ness ; which, though I never before observed in 
myself, yet it is likely others have. O hpw in- 
scrutable are the depths and deceits of the human 

heart! Had my enemy brought against me 

a charge of indolence, self-indulgence, or pride 
and impatience, or a too quick resentment of af- 
fronts and injuries, my own heart must have 
confirmed the accusation, and forced me to plead 
guilty. Had he charged me with bigotry, self- 






^-»v 



180 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

opinion, and censoriousness, I should have thought 
it proceeded from the same temper in himself, 
haying rarely observed any Ihing like it in my 
own. But had he charged me with covetousness, 
I should have taken it for downright calunmy, 
and despised the censure with indignation and 
triumph: and yet, after all, I find it had been 
but too true a charge. — O ! how hard a thing is 
it to know myself! — ^This, like all other know- 
ledge, the more I have of it, the more senenble I 
am of my want of it^." 

The difficulty of self-government and self-pos- 
session arises from the difficulty of a thorough 
self-acquaintance, which is necessary to it. I 
say a thorough self-acquaintance, such as has 
been already set forth in its several branches, 
Part I.; for as self-government is simply im- 
possible (I mean considered as a virtue) where 
self-ignorance prevails, so the difficulty of it will 
decrease in proportion to the degree in which 
self-acquaintance improves. 

Many, perhaps, may be ready to think thb a 

^ Cicero was, witboat doubt, the vaiDest man in life, or be 
never could bave l^ad the face to beseecb Cocceios, in writing 
tbe Roman Hi8tory,,to set the administration of bis consulship 
in the most distinguished point of glory, even at tbe expense 
of historical truth ; and jet, when be is begging a favour of 
the like kind, even of ICato himself, he has these astonishing 
words: — Si quisquam fuk nnquam remotns et naturi etmagis 
etiam (ut mihi quidem sebtire videor) ratione atque doctrina 
ab inani laude et aermonihus vulgit ego profeeto is sum. Lib. 
15. Ep. 4. If ever any man Was a stranger to vain-glory, and 
tbe desire of popular applause, it is myself: and this di^Mwi- 
tion, which I have by nature, is, methinks, grown yet stronger 
by reason and philosophy. — Ah ! how secretly doth self-ig- 
Borance (not only insinuate into, but) ioonceal itself within the 
most improved and best cultivated mindivj — Reader, bewaie« 



IS TO BB ATTAINED. 181 

paradox; and ima^e that they know their pre-' 
dominant passions uid foibles very well, but still 
find it extremely difficult to correct them. But 
let diem examine this point again, and perhaps 
they may find that that difficulty arises either 
from their defect of self-knowledge (for it is in 
this as in other kinds of knowledge, wherein 
some are very ready to think themselves much 
greater proficients than they are) or else from 
Uieir neglect to put in practice that degree of 
self-knowledge they have. They know their par- 
ticular failings, yet will not guard against the 
immediate temptations to them : and they are 
often betrayed into the immediate temptations 
vrhich overcome them, because they are ignorant 
of, or do not guard against, the more remote 
temptations, which lead them into those that are 
more immediate • and dangerous, which may not 
improperly be called the temptations to tempta- 
tions ; in observing and guarding against which, 
consists a very necessary part of self-knowledge, 
and the great art of keeping clear of danger, 
which, in our present state of frailty, is the best 
means of keeping clear of sin. 

To correct what is amiss, and to improve what 
is good in us, is supposed to be our hearty desire, 
and the great end of all our self-research. But 
if we do not endeavour after this, all our labour 
after self-knowledge will be in vain : nay, if we 
do not endeavour it, we cannot be said heartily 
to desire it. '^ For there is most of the heart 
where there is most of the vnll ; and there is 
•most of the will where there is most endeavour ; 
and where there is most endeavour there is 
generally most success : so that endeavour must 



\ 



182 



HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 






r prove the truth of our desire, and success wUl 
generally prove the sincerity of our endeavour^." 
This, I think, we may safely say, .witiiout attri- 
buting too much to the power of die human will, 
considering that we are rational and free agents, 
and considering whateffectual assistance is offered 
to them who seek it, to render their endeavours 
I successful if they are sincere : — which introduces 
J the subject of the following chapter. • 



7^ /^ 



r 



»-•• 



CHAP. X. 

FERVENT AMD FREQUENT PRAYER THE MOST EFFECTUAL 
MEANS FOR ATTAINING TRUE SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

Lastly, the last means to self-knowledge which 
; I shall jnention is, frequent and devout ai 
: tions to the Fount a in o f light, and the Father of 
^ur 'spmCirio assist us in this important study, 
and give us the true knowledge of ourselves. 

This I mention last, not as the least, but on 
the contrary, as the greatest and best means of 
all, to attain a right and thorough knowledge of 
ourselves, and the way to render all the rest 
effectual: and, therefore, though it be the last 
means mentioned, it is the first that should be 
used. 

Would we know ourselves, we must often con- 
verse not only with ourselves in meditation, but 
with God in prayer : — in the lowliest prostration 
of 'Soul, beseeching the Father of our spirits to 
discover them to us ; in whose light we may see 
light, where before there was nothing but dark*- 
ness: to make known to us the depths and de- 

f y "" / * Baxter, 



/^' 






f 

t 



\ 



^9 



IS TO BE ATTAINED. 183 

vices of our heart; for without the grace and 
influence of his divine illuminations and instruc- 
tions, our hearts will, after all our care and paint 
to know them, most certainly deceive us: and 
self-love will so prejudice the understanding, as 
to keep us still in self-ignorance. 

The first thing we are to do in order to self- 
knowledge is, to assure ourselves that our hearts 
are deceitful above all things : and the next 
b, to remember, that the Lard searcheth the 
hearts, and trieth the reins ^, i. e. that He, the 
{KapStoyvuTiji:) Searcher of all hearts^, hath a 
perfect knowledge of them, deceitful as they 
are. — Which consideration, as it suggesteth to us 
the strongest motive to induce us to labour after 
a true knowledge of them ourselves, so it directs 
us at the same time how we may attain this 
knowledge; viz. by a humble and importunate 
application to him, to whom alone they are 
known, to make them knovm to us. And this, i 
by the free and near access which his holy Spirit ; 
hath to our spirits, he can effectually do various 
ways; viz. by fixing our attentions; by quick- 
ening our apprehensions; removing our preju- ^ 
dices (which like a false medium before the eye 
of the mind, prevents its seeing things in a 
just and proper light) ; by mortifying our pride ; / 
strengthening the intellective and reflecting fa- 
culties; and enforcing upon the mind a lively 
sense and knowledge of its greatest happiness 
and duty; and so awakening the soul from that 
carnal security and indifference about its best in- 
terests, into which a too serious attention to the 
world is apt to betray it. 

* Jer. xvii. 10. * 1 Chroxu xxviii. 9. 



184 HOW SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

Besides, prayer is a very proper expedient for 
attaining self-knowledge, as the actual engage- 
ment of the mind in this devotional exercise is in 
itself a great help to it; — for the mind is never 
in a better frame than when it is intently and 
devoutly engaged in this duty : it has then the 
best apprehensions of God, the truest notions 
of itself, and the justest sentiments of earthly 
things ; the clearest conceptions of its own weak- 
ness, and the deepest sense of its own vileness ; 
and consequently is in the best' disposition that 
can be to receive a true and right loiowledge of 
itself. 

And, Oh ! could we but always think of our- 
selves in such a manner, or could we but always 
be in a disposition to think of ourselves in such 
a manner, as we sometimes do in the fervour of 
our humiliations before the throne of grace, how 
great a progress should we soon make in this 

important science! ^which evidently shows 

the necessity of such devout and humble en- 
gagements of the soul, and how happy a means 
they are to attain a just self-acquaintance. 

And now. Reader, whoever thou art that has 
taken the pains to peruse these sheets, whatever 
be thy circumstances or condition in the world, 
whatever thy capacity or understanding, whatr 
ever thy occupations and engagements, whatever 
thy favourite sentiments and principles, or what^ 
ever religious sect or party thou espousest, know 
for certain that thou hast been deeply interested 
in what thou hast been reading, whether thou 
hast attended to it or no; — for it is of no less 
concern to thee than the security of thy peace, 



IS TO BE ATTAI^^ED. ' 185 

and usefulness in this world, and thy happiness 
in another ; and relates to all thy interests, both 
as a man and a Christian. — Perhaps thou hast 
seen something of thine own image in the glass 
that has now been held up to thee. And wilt 
thou go away and soon forget what manner of 
person thou art ? — Perhaps thou hast met with 
some things thou dost not well understand or 
approve. But shall that take off thine attention 
from those things thou dost understand and ap- 
prove, and art convinced of the necessity of? — 
If thou hast received no improvement, no benefit 
from this plain practical Treatise thou hast now 
perused, read it. over again : the same thought, 
you know, often impresses one more at one time 
than another; and we sometimes receive more 
knowledge and profit by the second perusal of a iu 
book than by the first: and I would fain hope \102'; 
that thou wilt find something in this that may > ^ 
set thy thoughts on work, and which, by the 
blessing of God, may make thee more observant 
of thy heart and conduct ; and, in consequence 
of that, a more solid, serious, wise, established 
Christian. 

But will you, after all, deal by this book you 
have now read, as you have dealt by mm ser- "^A^ 
mons you have heard ? Pass your judgmeift upon ( 

it according to your received and established set 
of notions ; and condemn or applaud it, only as 
it is agi'eeable or disagreeable to them; and 
commend or censure it, as it suits or does not 
suit your particular taste; without attending to 
the real weight, impoilance, and necessity of the 
subject abstracted from those views? Or will 



186 • SELF-KNOWLEDGE. 

you be barely content with the entertainment and 
sa^sfaction which some parts of it may possibly 
have given you, to assent to the importance of 
the subject, the justness of the sentiment, or the 
propriety of some of the observations you have 
been reading, and so dismiss all without any 
further concern about the matter? — Believe it, O 
christian reader, if this be all the advantage you 
gain by it, it were scarce worth while to have con- 
fined yourself so long to the perusal of it. It has 
aimed, it has sincerely aimed, to do you a much 
greater benefit; to bring you to a better acquaint- 
ance with one you express a particular regard 
for, and who is capable of being the best friend, 
or the worst enemy, you have in the world ; and 
that is yourself. — It was designed to convince 
you, that would you live and act consistently, 
either as a man or a Christian, you must know 
yourself; and to persuade you, under the influ- 
ence of the foregoing motives, and by the help 
of the forementioned directions, to make self- 
"yC^ I knowledge the great study , and 8elf-p ;ovfiri]fnpnt 
■ ■ ^e great bugjftfi^s of YQ^r life * Ip which reso- 
lution may Almighty God confirm you; and in 
which great business may his grace assist you 
against all future discouragements and distrac- 
tions! — With Him I leave the success of the 
whole; to whom be glory and praise for ever. 




THE END. 



C. Wbittingham, College Hoose, ChUwick. 



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